Getting Big Oil to act on climate change

We work with investors to push the oil and gas industry to take meaningful climate action. We first filed shareholder resolutions at BP and Shell in 2009 asking the oil giants to stop investing in tar sands. Shell has since sold all of it tar sands assets. Since then, we have been using a wide range of tools to make sure that these and other Big Oil companies don’t jeopardise our future for short-term profits.

We use every tactic in the ShareAction toolkit, supported by allies across civil society and the investment industry, to drive ambition and climate action in Big Oil companies. Get in touch on if you want to get involved.

Why this is important and what we’re doing about it

The UN climate science body, the IPCC, released a landmark report in October 2018 (find out more here). It confirmed everything we knew already: to avert the worst consequences of climate change, the oil industry needs to massively scale down its investments in fossil fuels.

Failing to align Big Oil with the low-carbon transition quickly threatens the livelihoods, homes, and jobs of millions of people across the world. Encouragingly, the IPCC also highlighted the potential for non-state actors such as institutional investors, civil society, and scientific institutions to get together and organise for change – a strategy that has been at the core of ShareAction’s campaigns for years.

Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 (find out why here). We believe that investors in these companies hold the key to solving climate change.

But a company’s carbon footprint is only half of the story. Many companies influence action on climate change by lobbying governments – both directly and through their trade associations. This is why we are challenging Big Oil companies to do two things:

  • Develop a plan showing how they will align their business model with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement; and
  • Lobby positively for a well-below 2°C world.

We use a toolkit of tactics to ensure this is taking place. Our toolkit starts with detailed analysis and research of Big Oil’s progress towards the low-carbon transition and then incorporates asking challenging questions at Annual General Meetings (AGMs) (find out more here), connecting pension schemes with members concerned about climate change, coordinating letters from investors concerned with Big Oil’s movement on climate change, as well as filing shareholder resolutions to encourage more ambitious progress.

Campaign resources

Investor briefing on voting recommendations at ExxonMobil

ShareAction recommends that investors take a strong voting stance on director re-election at the 2019 ExxonMobil AGM, and encourages investors to also support items 4, 7 and 10 on the ballot. This briefing also outlines upcoming 2019 shareholder resolutions on climate change at high-carbon companies.


Letter from NGOs to CEOs of CA100+ initiative

Nine civil society organisations, including ShareAction, have written to all CA100+ investors asking for transparency on climate change engagements.


UK Guide to Shareholder Resolutions (CRIN)

This resource provides guidance on the legal and technical requirements of filing a shareholder resolution in the UK, and on overcoming the associated challenges, and includes a summary of how CRIN can support charitable investors in doing so.


Find out more

Jeanne Martin

Jeanne Martin

Senior Campaigns Officer - Fossil Fuels