Nearly one in five shareholders vote against £10m pay package for BP head

Shareholders dealt BP bosses a bloody nose following a turbulent annual meeting in London, with nearly one in five voting against the business’s £10 million pay package for chief Bernard Looney.

The oil firm said around 18% of votes had been cast against its remuneration report, according to preliminary results, despite the business making record profits last year, but the report gained enough votes to pass.

However, an attempt by pension funds to vote against the reappointment of chairman Helge Lund failed to gather enough support to oust the Norwegian. A little under 10% of votes were cast against him.

BP annual general meeting protest
A protester from Fossil Free London is carried away by members of security after trying to enter BP’s annual general meeting at the ExCel centre in east London (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Despite protesters inside and outside the meeting and questions from shareholders, bosses at BP defended their plans to increase their investments in drilling for oil and gas by another one billion dollars (£830 million) per year over the remainder of this decade.

Bernard Looney said the company’s plan, announced in February, was not about “either or,” it was about investing both in the current highly emitting energy system while also putting money into the transition to greener alternatives.

He said that on top of the money BP is spending on extracting polluting fuels from the ground, it is also investing in electric vehicle charging points, capturing gas from landfill sites, and investing into so-called sustainable aviation fuels.

“So we are doing more, and in February we actually announced that we would spend up to eight billion dollars more this decade,” in the energy transition, he said.

“Now, eight billion on top of what? Well that’s between 55 and 65 billion dollars into five transition growth engines this decade.

“We went from 3% of our money being spent in those areas in 2019 to 30% last year, that’s 3% to 30% in just three years. I think anybody would have to say that that is quite a significant change.”

Mr Looney and his chairman Helge Lund were repeatedly interrupted throughout the meeting by seven protesters who had entered the room.

One man had to be carried out, while others were turned away at the door.

BP annual general meeting protest
Protesters outside the meeting (Rebecca Speare-Cole/PA)

Kush Naker, 32, from north-west London, who was carried out of the ExCel building before the AGM, told the PA news agency they own shares in BP and were entitled to enter the meeting.

He said: “BP are climate criminals, they are still emitting, they are still investing in new oil and gas.

“BP have no interest in protecting our futures. They are only interested in protecting their own profits.”

In the room, Mark van Baal, whose activist group filed a shareholder resolution for investors to vote on, said that the company had not set targets which will lead to the oil giant cutting its absolute emissions by the end of this decade.

The Follow This founder said: “Do you really think that BP can be Paris-aligned without reducing BPs total emissions by 2030?”

Resolution 25, which was filed by Follow This, called on the company to align itself to the Paris Climate Agreement.

However, the proposal was defeated by a shareholder vote after the board recommended investors vote against it.

According to the preliminary vote, 16.75% of shareholder votes were cast for the resolution, up from last year’s proposal by Follow This.

Mr Lund said he shares Mr van Baal’s desire for the world to meet the environmental goals in the Paris Agreement.

“But this resolution is not the answer, what it calls for BP to do is unclear.

“It does not recognise that our strategy, ambitions and aims constitute a coherent and integrated programme of transformation for BP.

“Nor does it take into account the update to our strategy in February.”

Mr Looney said: “We absolutely believe that our aims and all the work we are doing are absolutely consistent with Paris.”