Woodside board appointments reinforce investor concerns on climate strategy
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on the announced changes to Woodside’s board of directors, with the retirement of Sarah Ryan and Dr Christopher Haynes, the appointment of Arnaud Breuillac and recommended election of Angela Minas at the 2023 AGM.
Commenting on the nominated and proposed new directors, Alex Hillman, Lead Analyst at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“Through the release of its 2022 Climate Report last week, Woodside demonstrated that its board is still not responding to investor concerns about its climate strategy.
“Woodside remains stubbornly rusted on to its underwhelming 2021 climate plan, which was rejected by 49% of its shareholders at the 2022 AGM. Climate change is a significant strategic governance issue for which the board bears responsibility, and this lack of responsiveness to material shareholder votes raises genuine governance concerns.
“Today’s director appointments only amplify these concerns - particularly with the appointment of long-standing TotalEnergies executive, Mr Arnaud Breuillac.
“It is also hard to see how Ms Minas’ professional history in exploration, petrochemicals and the gas industry will lend itself to Woodside setting a strategy that is aligned with decarbonisation.
“These appointments provide shareholders with direct insight into the company that Woodside wants to be in a decarbonising economy. Based upon the skills and experience of the individuals, it does not read like a pivot away from fossil fuel expansion.
In 2020, 50% of Woodside’s shareholders voted for an ACCR resolution asking for the company to do better on climate risk management. In 2022, Woodside received the largest vote against its 2021 Climate Action Transition Plan of any company since the Say on Climate mechanism was introduced.
Say on Climate is a global initiative, where companies develop climate strategies and offer shareholders a vote at a general meeting. There have been 61 votes to date and Woodside’s has secured the lowest vote globally. The average vote against these plans has been 7.75%, whilst 49% of Woodside shareholders voted against the company’s 2021 Climate Report.
Votes against SoC resolutions that had at least 10% vote against the plan (%; MSCI)