Rethinking Woodside’s Climate Strategy: Investors Speak Out

Woodside investors voted against the company's climate strategy. Now, the focus is on the board.
22 May 2024
Woodside Climate Strategy

The recent AGM of the Woodside Energy Group (WDS) has drawn significant attention to the company’s climate strategy and leadership. Shareholders made their voices heard, with 58.4% voting against Woodside’s Climate Transition Action and 2023 Progress Report, and 16.61% opposing the re-election of Chairman Richard Goyder.

Commenting on the results, Harriet Kater, Head of Impact at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), stated, “It is inconceivable for Richard Goyder’s board to continue its trend of dismissing shareholder concerns following this overwhelming rejection of Woodside’s climate plan.”

Kater highlighted the unprecedented nature of the rejection of Woodside’s climate strategy, urging for a reevaluation of the company’s approach. “The scale of this rejection is globally unprecedented. With 58.4% of investors voting against, this is the least-supported climate plan ever,” she emphasised.

While Goyder’s re-election was not outrightly rejected, the significant percentage opposing it underscores growing investor dissatisfaction. “Mr. Goyder would be naive to presume that he can continue his final term with a business-as-usual approach,” Kater added.

Woodside’s CEO, Meg O’Neill, has previously asserted that the company’s strategy is inseparable from its climate strategy. However, the growing disconnect between shareholder expectations and the board’s direction has become increasingly evident. ACCR’s research presents alternative options for Woodside, challenging the board’s preference for high-risk oil and gas projects.

As Woodside navigates the aftermath of the AGM, the focus remains on the board’s response. Kater expressed optimism about the potential for change, framing the outcomes as an inflexion point necessitating meaningful dialogue and action.

Moving forward, Woodside faces a critical juncture. Whether it involves reevaluating growth projects or reconsidering leadership dynamics, the AGM’s outcomes signal a broader call for accountability and alignment with shareholder interests. The rejection of the climate plan and opposition to Goyder’s re-election not only indicate investor dissatisfaction but also present an opportunity for the company to engage in constructive dialogue and explore alternative approaches in line with shareholder expectations.

22 May 2024