Shell defends environment policy from Pirc attack

Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, yesterday launched an unusually outspoken defence of its business practices, urging shareholders to reject a special resolution proposed for its annual general meeting by investors critical of its environmental policies.

John Jennings, chairman of the corporation's UK-based arm, Shell Transport and Trading, said he was disappointed with the resolution, which has been drafted by the shareholders' advisory and pressure group, Pirc. The attack is likely to be viewed as another indication of Shell's drive towards greater transparency, shedding its sometimes secretive public image.

Clearly frustrated that Pirc had decided to press on with the assault despite earlier meetings with Shell management, he said: "We rather take exception to the resolution. We believe it demonstrates an incomplete knowledge of what's already being done."

Last night the chances of Pirc withdrawing the resolution seemed remote. Stuart Bell, the organisation's research director, said: "If the company can demonstrate that all the elements are being dealt with then clearly there's no reason to push on with the resolution. But at our last meeting with Shell, which was just two weeks ago, they gave us no indication that this was the case."

The resolution, to be put to the AGM on 14 May, calls on Shell to put a single, named director in charge of environmental and corporate policies, to appoint external auditors to review the policies and to publish a report for shareholders specifically on the company's operations in Nigeria. Pirc said its move had been supported by more than 100 shareholders, speaking for just under 1 per cent of Shell shares.

The resolution follows the worldwide criticism of Shell's reluctance to take a public stand in 1995 against the Nigerian regime's execution of the Ogoni leader, Ken Saro Wiwa. The group also faced controversy over its plans, later abandoned, to dump the Brent Spar oil platform at sea.

In an attempt to head off a wider shareholder revolt, Mr Jennings appeared to offer significant concessions yesterday. He said Shell aimed to publish a group-wide report outlining the conclusions of a long-running environmental review before the AGM. "I don't see the need for the resolution at all," he said. "It's not the right way for ensuring a business is run properly."

He also insisted that most of the criticisms were already being tackled. In particular, he revealed that Shell was experimenting with outside environmental audits in some parts of its empire, which included the Nigerian and British operations. But he declined to say which firms of auditors were taking part or which parts of the group were affected. He also added that few auditors had sufficient expertise of environmental work.

Pirc, which has been backed by the Church-based shareholders' organisation, the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, said it was nonsense for Shell to argue that it had received no prior warning that the resolution would be tabled. "If they are doing all the things in the resolution, why aren't they supporting the resolution?" said Mr Bell.

Shell Transport's annual report for shareholders, published today, also revealed that Mr Jennings' total pay package rose last year by more than 9 per cent to pounds 677,703. His basic salary rose from pounds 470,776 to pounds 496,322, while his performance-related bonus went up by pounds 28,000 to pounds 124,000. Mark Moody-Stuart, group managing director, saw his total pay rise by more than 6 per cent to pounds 510,002.

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

PMO Analyst - London - Banking - £350 - £400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: PMO Analyst - Banking - London - £350 -£400 per d...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn