A vast majority of Royal Dutch Shell shareholders voted down a proposal calling on the company to set specific targets for lowering its carbon dioxide emissions on Tuesday, putting their faith in the company's internal plans to fight climate change.
Only five percent of shareholders at Shell's annual meeting in The Hague voted for the resolution put forward by the Dutch activist group Follow This, which wanted the company to set more specific goals outlining how it would lower emissions to honor the Paris agreement goal of keeping warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, MarketWatch reported.
This is the third year in a row that Follow This has put forward a resolution calling for climate action, Bloomberg reported. In November 2017, Shell announced its own plan to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2050, taking into account both its own emissions and the consumer use of the fossil fuels it sells.
"We hear Follow This wants us to take leadership. Your company is taking leadership. My response is: follow us," Bloomberg reported that Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said. "We have ambitions completely consistent and compatible with the Paris agreement."
Follow This had argued that the company's internal plans did not go far enough and were not specific enough, since they did not include any intermediate targets. In particular, they said that honoring the Paris agreement requires a 60 to 65 percent reduction in emissions by 2050, while the company's plan only amounted to a 25 percent reduction overall, since it did not take the projected 50 percent growth of Shell's share in the energy market into account.
The rejected Follow This resolution asked the company "to set and publish targets that are aligned with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement" and stipulated that the targets needed "to include long-term (2050) and intermediate objectives, to be quantitative, and to be reviewed regularly."
However, a majority of shareholders were content to follow Van Beurden's lead, though some still made a point of signalling their support for climate action.
A group of 27 shareholders with $8 trillion held between them signed a statement calling on Shell and the rest of the oil and gas industry to increase their commitment to lowering emissions, MarketWatch reported.
"We applaud the ambition stated ... and indeed challenge all other oil-and-gas companies to follow suit; but we call for this ambition to be translated into firm medium- and short-term targets," the statement said.
The 27 shareholders, including three of Shell's top 20 investors and the U.S.'s largest pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, did not go so far as to support Follow This' resolution out of respect for Shell's efforts.
After the vote, Follow This founder Mark van Baal told reporters he was glad the issue had been debated and credited Follow This' previous resolutions with pushing the company to make its own climate action plans, Bloomberg reported.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.