Climate love
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Follow This

Climate love

Change from the inside

Our story
Follow This is now a major international player pressuring the oil industry, filing resolutions in five different oil majors in Europe and the U.S. But it wasn’t always this way…
How it all began
It’s 2002, and Mark van Baal is travelling throughout Europe selling refrigeration machines for shipping containers. He was fed up with not doing something socially responsible. He decided to become a journalist. After seeing Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006, he wrote more and more about global warming. “I became increasingly convinced that the fossil fuel industry would have to change. Renewable energy holds enormous opportunities for these companies, and making the switch to a sustainable energy company is the only chance that they have to survive.”

Unfortunately, writing about the need for change did not have the desired effect. “After ten years I came to the conclusion that Shell does not listen to journalists, nor to activist groups, nor to governments. The only ones who can convince Shell to choose another course are its shareholders.”

Change from the inside
Van Baal saw that in order to change Shell, he would have to become a shareholder.

“I knew that one small shareholder can change the course of a company,” he says. The thinking was, if you can buy enough shares to submit a resolution to the shareholders’ meeting, then I will only have to convince the other shareholders. He called his idea Follow This.

The idea quickly took shape. Submitting a resolution requires at least 5 million euros in shares, so in 2015 he united big and large shareholders, convincing large shareholders to contribute and putting up a website where anyone could buy a share for about thirty euros.
A noble cause
But it didn’t go all that quickly. “The first months were really difficult,” he relates. “How often have I heard people say, ‘Oh, you want to change Shell. That’s a noble cause.’ They didn’t believe that we would actually succeed.

In this video, you see a young guy dancing in a park for several minutes all by himself. After a while a couple of others join him – the first followers – and then it takes off and a whole crowd joins in. “When I decided that I wanted to change Shell my wife showed me the video clip, and said, ‘That’s what you are going to do.’ And she was right.”

Eventually, more and more people got in touch and wanted to help with the mission of Follow This. The team of volunteers supporting Follow This grew larger and larger. “I am impressed every day by the drive and the brainpower of our young team members: students and recent graduates who are looking for work with a purpose.”
A shareholder resolution
So Follow This finally pulled together enough money to submit a resolution for the first time at the 2016 shareholders’ meeting. Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, appealed to his shareholders to vote against the resolution; nevertheless, 3% voted for it and another 3% withheld from voting.

In 2017 things went better. Follow This submitted another resolution, this time asking Shell to align its emission targets with the Paris climate agreement. Shell directors call this proposal a ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ and ‘unreasonable’, but 6% of shareholders voted in favour of it, double that of 2016. Thanks to the support of large institutional shareholders such as Actiam, Van Lanschot Kempen, MN, The Blue Sky Group, and the Church of England, Shell now has to listen to its shareholders.
Climate ambition
Shell reacted half a year later by announcing a ‘climate ambition’ as the first oil company in the world to do so.

In 2018, Follow This filed at Shell again, and this time the company considered it ‘unnecessary’ to accept the resolution of Follow This, as can be seen in a heated altercation between Van Baal and Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden. And yet, nine of the ten biggest Dutch investors turned a blind eye to Van Beurden’s appeal. “Of the shareholders voting, 5.5% voted for the resolution and 7% abstained, which means that nearly 13% no longer support the Shell board,” says Van Baal.
Taking on Shell
It takes guts to tackle one of the biggest companies in the world alone.

But it turns out that it is in fact working. Follow This now has a committed team and a growing group of 5,000 responsible shareholders, and is well-known amongst all major European oil majors, investors, and international media.

Shell’s climate ambition does not yet go far enough. “According to this ambition, Shell will halve its carbon footprint by 2050. But a relative reduction of 50% (an absolute reduction of 30%, because energy demand will grow) is not nearly enough to achieve the goals of the Paris climate agreement.”
Paris climate goals
“The entire industry will have to come around. Oil and gas companies will only survive if they become more sustainable, and without them we will never be able to achieve the Paris climate goals. If that happens, we will all be in much more danger. And it is not just our investments that are endangered, but our safety.”

In the coming years we will find out whether halting climate change will even be possible. But one thing is certain: If we let the oil industry have their way for another five years, we don’t have a chance.

https://youtu.be/T3LbOltzjJ8



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Follow This

48 w

Thank you all for supporting Follow This. It is truly inspiring to witness the overwhelming interest in our cause. The movement is gaining momentum! We are proud to announce that we now have over 10,000 green shareholders who are dedicated to bringing about the necessary changes to avert a climate disaster. But we are just getting started. Together, we can create a significant impact within the oil industry. By purchasing a Green Share for just a little more than €10, you can become an integral part of the conversation that steers the oil majors towards a sustainable course. Let's unite and drive the change for a better future. Do you want to be a part of it? Have a look at our website: https://www.follow-this.org

13
  • Amina Bule

    32 w

    This has made me believe, there is nothing impossible if you truly believe in it and work towards achieving, thank you for this , really inspiring

    1
    • Johannes Luiga

      37 w

      Truly encouraging!

      • Christine Zimmermann-Lössl

        47 w

        I am in and have bought a share - it is not enough any more for me to just agree

        4
        • Follow This

          47 w

          @christine_zimmermann_lossl Thank you very much for your support! Great to hear that a new member joined our group of Green Shareholders.

        • Follow This

          48 w

          Thank you all for supporting Follow This. It is truly inspiring to witness the overwhelming interest in our cause. The movement is gaining momentum! We are proud to announce that we now have over 10,000 green shareholders who are dedicated to bringing about the necessary changes to avert a climate disaster. But we are just getting started. Together, we can create a significant impact within the oil industry. By purchasing a Green Share for just a little more than €10, you can become an integral part of the conversation that steers the oil majors towards a sustainable course. Let's unite and drive the change for a better future. Do you want to be a part of it? Have a look at our website: https://www.follow-this.org

          13
          • Adam Wallin

            48 w

            @follow_this Great to hear you are gaining momentum, I really believe in your method of change! Thank you for sharing and joining our dialogue!

            7
            • Sarah Chabane

              48 w

              @follow_this What you are doing is so important! Thank you for your work and for joining the dialogue on We Don't Have Time

              3
            • We Don't Have Time

              49 w

              Dear Wil Sillen Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Follow This by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

              5
              • Annett Michuki..

                49 w

                interesting

                5
                • Kevin

                  49 w

                  This is totally inspirational

                  4
                  • Munene Mugambi

                    49 w

                    Follow Follow This to learn how to transform and fight on behalf of the planet

                    12
                    • Rukia Ahmed Abdi

                      49 w

                      Wow, this is so inspiring. How i wish every human being had the same dream to conserve our mother nature.

                      14
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