Origin Energy is the sharemakets sixth resource-intensive firm to commit to allowing shareholders a say on climate reporting, though the company has again been questioned about the sincerity of its emissions-reduction push.
The $7.6 billion utilities giant this morning said it would allow investors to vote on a non-binding advisory resolution at its 2022 annual general meeting.
It joins fellow ASX firms AGL Energy, Santos, Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search, and Rio Tinto in offering a non-binding vote on climate as investor pressure on emissions and ESG factors remains strong.
The Eraring coal plant in NSW is Origins only coal-fired power station.Credit:Nick Moir
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility today welcomed Origins decision to offer shareholders a say but said the companys oil and gas expansion did not align with any of its commitments on climate.
While Origins commitment to a Say on Climate is welcome, its plans to develop the Beetaloo and Canning Basins are inconsistent with its commitment to a 1.5°C pathway and the Paris Agreement, ACCR director of climate and environment Dan Gocher said.
Origin continues to mislead shareholders by saying it will be accredited with a 1.5°C science-based target whilst it seeks to expand oil and gas production. Suggesting it is possible makes a mockery of climate science.
Origin – which owns Australias largest coal-fired power station in Eraring – said the climate vote would complement continuing conversations it was having with shareholders and stakeholders about the risks and opportunities climate change presents for the business.
In addition, Origin continues to progress work on the development of more ambitious emissions reduction targets consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway, chairman Scott Perkins said in a release to the ASX.
Origin on Friday also review of its industry association memberships and their respective positions on climate change, following concerns raised at the 2020 AGM.
Overall, we found strong alignment on climate change positions with our key industry association, Origin said.
It noted the Australian Energy Council, Business Council of Australia, Queensland Resources Council and Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) had all strengthened their positions on climate change action and policy, including explicit commitments to the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050.
The ACRC was, however, again critical of Origin, advising it to cut ties with the likes of APPEA, which has lobbied relentlessly for a gas-fired recovery since the start of the pandemic.
If Origin were genuine about its climate commitments, it would rip the bandaid off and end its association with industry groups that continue to advocate for fossil fuel expansion, Mr Gocher said.
Instead it sits idle and directly benefits from the gas subsidies that have been unlocked by aggressive lobbying.
Origin shares were down 1.8 per cent at $4.26 on Friday and have dropped 10.5 per cent in value in 2021.

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