Doctoral student Yavan Atalay

67800 €

A Key Agent of Green Transition in the Oil and Gas Industry: Climate Activist Shareholders

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Kolmivuotinen

Climate change poses an unprecedented threat to the sustainable development of humanity. The Paris Agreement called the international community for immediate action to avoid potentially catastrophic outcomes of climate change by keeping the atmospheric temperature well below 2°C on a global scale above pre-industrial levels. This ambitious goal can only be achieved if carbon-intensive businesses commit themselves to the transition towards a low-carbon economy. The oil and gas industry comprises more than half of the global energy mix and stands out among these sectors with its major contribution to the climate crisis. Environmentally conscious investors enter the scene here as prominent stakeholders who can hold such businesses accountable for climate action. Over the last few years, shareholders formed alliances in an increasing manner to consolidate their position over the petroleum industry. They filed resolutions with the support of such partnerships and raised their unified voice on the green transition. The way in which environmentally conscious investors exert their power is expected to play a major role in the Paris alignment of extractive sectors. Gaining a better understanding of this emerging phenomenon holds special significance for Finland to achieve its ambitious climate target and reach carbon neutrality by 2035. In order to study this under-researched yet impactful form of activism, I will adopt a qualitative content analysis approach and examine the climate-oriented shareholder proposals targeting large-scale U.S. oil & gas companies throughout the last decade. In addition, I will conduct in-depth interviews with climate-conscious shareholders of Finnish petroleum companies and explore their activism strategies. Hence, my article-based dissertation aims to clarify the influence strategies of climate activist investors (1) to evaluate their effectiveness (2) and to reveal corporate responses to intensifying shareholder pressure (3).