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.

Latest news

1.5C means no new fossil fuels, says the IEA 

1.5C means no new fossil fuels, says the IEA 

The International Energy Agency has announced a new 1.5C scenario which doesn’t allow for any new oil and gas investments. Used right it’s an opportunity for companies and their investors to set a more meaningful road to net-zero.

read more

Campaign resources

Electric Vehicle Fleets: An Impact Opportunity for Investors

Decarbonising road transport will be crucial for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Transportation accounts for 23% of global CO2 emissions, of which 74% comes from road vehicles, and despite improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, emissions have continued to rise. However, the automobile industry is currently in flux. The market for electric vehicles (EVs) is growing rapidly, accounting for 2.5% of new vehicle sales in 20183 – marking a 68% year-on-year increase. This rapidly growing market, propelled by falling costs and supportive government policy, has the potential to turn the tide of rising transport emissions.


Voting Matters: Are asset managers using their proxy votes for climate action?

Climate change is one of the highest priorities facing investors. In this report, we’ve examined how 57 of the world’s largest asset managers voted on 65 shareholder resolutions linked to climate change. While there is encouraging improvement when it comes to voting for climate change resolutions, many still shy away from holding companies account. Investors voting power is the most powerful tool they have, it is vital that all investors use it.

See our summary


Decarbonising Cement: The Role of Institutional Investors

Concrete, and therefore cement, is everywhere. From houses to hospitals, cement forms the very foundation of our industrialised societies. Yet this seemingly innocuous substance accounts for 8% of global emissions. This report outlines why cement is so carbon-intensive, how the industry can decarbonise, and why institutional investors need to act.


Find out more

Jeanne Martin

Jeanne Martin

Senior Campaigns Officer - Fossil Fuels