BlackRock goes against BP board in climate resolution vote

LONDON, May 28 (Reuters) - The world’s biggest asset manager and top BP investor BlackRock said on Friday it had backed a shareholder resolution calling for faster climate action which the energy company’s board opposed.

BlackRock’s vote at BP’s annual general meeting earlier this month points to growing pressure on both major oil companies and investors to accelerate efforts to slash greenhouse gas emissions. BlackRock holds a 6.8% stake in BP, according to Refinitiv data.

The asset manager said, however, that it voted in favour of Total’s energy transition strategy at the company’s AGM on Friday, which won over 90% of shareholder support.

It also supported management at Royal Dutch Shell in a non-binding vote on the company’s energy transition strategy at its AGM this month. Refinitiv data showed BlackRock is also the biggest investor in the company.

Managing $9 trillion in assets, BlackRock’s vote has been a key focus for campaigners and investors alike, as pressure builds on the world’s biggest oil companies to put in place a plan aligned with the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

BlackRock said it had backed a BP shareholder resolution put forward by activist group Follow This, which asked for the company to set deeper climate targets.

Although the Follow This resolution was rejected, the 20% support it won was seen as a signal that a growing number of investors want CEO Bernard Looney to accelerate his plan to cut BP’s emissions from its oil and gas production to net zero by 2050, which will see it reduce oil output by 40% by 2030.

BlackRock said it supports BP’s climate strategy but that it also supported the Follow This resolution “because we see it as a means to reiterate our expectation that BP progressively refine its GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions reduction targets.” (Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)