Today at BP's AGM investors passed a resolution requiring the company to dramatically change its reporting to shareholders on climate change.
This is the first time in the UK that a major group of institutional investors has filed a shareholder resolution on an environmental issue. It is the first time that such a resolution has been approved by a company's investors.
The vote was unanimous. The resolution was supported overwhelmingly by 98% of investors.
BP itself recommended to shareholders that they back the resolution.
The Church of England's national investing bodies have been at the forefront of three years of engagement with BP and outreach to investors.
But what difference will the resolution make?
In practical terms the resolution asks BP to improve disclosure in five areas.
How BP is reducing its own emissions; whether the projects the company is investing in will be viable in a low carbon economy; the approach to investment in low carbon energy; what the Board is incentivising executives to achieve during the low carbon transition; and what kind of public policy the company is lobbying for.
This is a step change in the relationship between BP and its investors on the issue of climate change.
On the back of this disclosure, investors will be able to judge whether BP is positioning itself to be a sustainable player in the energy system. The disclosures that result from this resolution will facilitate in-depth discussions between the company and its investors on long-term strategy in an increasingly complex and fast changing energy environment.
Climate change will have a permanent seat at the board table. It will be a permanent feature of investor engagement.
The answers for energy companies on climate change are not easy. But investors must ask the questions. Today investors have started to do so.
Read the Church of England's press release at: