BP attempts to block shareholder discussion on human rights

Wednesday, 28 February 2001

Oil giant BP has attempted to block four shareholder resolutions on the environment and human rights, due to be debated at the BP AGM on 19th April, using archaic 19th Century case law. The company is attempting to rule the resolutions out of order on a legal technicality.

Last year a similarly worded Greenpeace shareholder resolution was accepted as legal. The 2000 resolution, which called on BP to switch investment from oil exploration to renewable energy and to stay out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, went on to gain an unprecedented 13% vote in its favour at the company's AGM.

"We are bemused at this turn of events", said Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace climate campaigner. "We can only assume that BP did not take us seriously last year until the vote was counted. This year the company has applied the strictest interpretation of one of the most technical points of law in an attempt to slam the shutters on legitimate debate."

"BP's behaviour shows an arrogant disregard and disrespect for its shareholders. Greenpeace believes that BP's investors have a right and a responsibility to consider the future of oil in the light of its contribution to climate change, and we will not be deflected by these tactics."

The resolution filed by Free Tibet Campaign and other Tibet organisations, calls on BP to divest from PetroChina, a Chinese oil company building a gas pipeline across Tibet without any consultation of local people or impact assessments.

"The Tibetan people, living under occupation, do not have the opportunity to speak freely about PetroChina's exploitation of Tibet, or BP's investment in the company," said Lorne Stockman of Free Tibet Campaign. "We hope that in the interests of transparency, more BP shareholders will come forward and support our efforts to speak out on behalf of those who are silenced."

These resolutions, along with others filed by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility and the US Public Interest Research Group, have the backing of campaigning organisations, socially responsible and institutional investors as well as individual shareholders. BP's American shareholders have been excluded from sponsoring the resolutions as individuals, which has infuriated US investors.

For further information please contact Stephanie Tunmore, Greenpeace: 020 7865 8211, mobile 07801 212961
Lorne Stockman, Free Tibet Campaign: 020 7833 9958, mobile 07711 843884

Notes to Editors

BP has insisted that if the resolutions are re-filed they must be redrafted as Special Resolutions. They would then require 75% of the vote to be passed rather than a simple majority
Holders of American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which are worth the equivalent of six Ordinary BP shares, are unable to co-file a shareholder resolution as individuals, although they may vote at the AGM.
ADRs were issued when BP merged with Amoco and Arco. ADR holders must seek the support of BP's nominee, Morgan Guaranty Ltd in New York, if they wish to co-file a resolution. ADR holders have written to Guaranty Nominees Ltd to request that it act on their behalf in co-filing the resolutions, but they would only be counted as a single member, irrespective of the number of ADR holders supporting the request.

Four resolutions have been submitted to the BP AGM. They are:

A Greenpeace resolution calling on BP to publish a 'carbon transition' strategy showing investors how it intends to move away from the production and sale of fossil fuels, in response to climate change.
A resolution calling on BP to provide a risk assessment on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, submitted by US Public Interest Research Group, supported by Greenpeace and others.
A resolution filed by Free Tibet Campaign and a coalition of Tibet organisations (including the International Campaign for Tibet, Milarepa Fund, Students for a Free Tibet and the US Tibet Committee) calling on BP to divest from PetroChina, a Chinese oil company building a gas pipeline across Tibet.
A resolution filed by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility calling on BP to formulate human rights policy commitments to apply to their strategic investments.