Protests planned as Woodside climate plan goes to vote

Derek RoseAAP
The pipeline installation ship contracted by Woodside to lay pipe for its Scarborough gas project. (HANDOUT/SAIPEM)
Camera IconThe pipeline installation ship contracted by Woodside to lay pipe for its Scarborough gas project. (HANDOUT/SAIPEM) Credit: AAP

Australia’s leading environmental activist groups will gather outside the Crown Casino in Perth as the country’s leading oil and gas company holds its annual general meeting.

Activists from Greenpeace Australia Pacific, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA), Market Forces and Environs Kimberley will protest Woodside Energy’s continued focus on oil and gas exploration on Wednesday.

The groups are urging shareholders to vote against the re-election of Richard Goyder as Woodside’s chairman and against the passage of Woodside’s Climate Transition Action Plan, which the company is putting to shareholders for an advisory vote.

“Woodside chair Richard Goyder says that the energy transition needs time and trust,” said CCWA executive director Jess Beckerling in a statement.

“We say to Woodside: we’re out of time, and you are not trusted.”

The groups are particularly incensed by Woodside’s Burrup Hub project on WA’s Burrup Peninsula, part of the company’s $16.5 billion plan to develop the Scarborough gas field 375km off the Pilbara coast of WA.

“Woodside’s enormous Burrup Hub gas precinct would be the Southern Hemisphere’s largest gas carbon bomb, with its lifetime climate pollution more than 13 times Australia’s annual emissions from all sources,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

Market Forces chief executive Will van de Pol said the Perth-based company was “steaming ahead with dangerous gas growth, scoffing at the world-record number of shareholders who have already rejected the company’s climate plan.”

Woodside says the Scarborough project, scheduled for first gas in 2026, will create thousands of jobs, contribute $19 billion in taxes to Australia and help neighbouring Asian countries with their energy transition.

Mr Goyder said in a letter to shareholders last week that Woodside believed that climate change was an urgent global challenge, and that he had personally led over 80 engagements with shareholders and proxy advisors on the issue over the past 12 months.

“We are being honest about the energy transition,” he wrote, calling Woodside’s climate plan a “well-considered and realistic pathway” that deserved shareholder support at the AGM.

“We are concerned that some stakeholders’ and investors’ requests to drastically change Woodside’s strategy and investment priorities risk eroding value for all shareholders and contributing to a disorderly energy transition,” Mr Goyder wrote.

The Australian Shareholders Association plans to vote vote yes on both Woodside’s climate plan, which it calls ambitious, and the re-election of Mr Goyder, who is also the chairman of Qantas and of the AFL Commission.

“We believe that Mr Goyder has been good for Woodside,” the association says.

A vote on the climate plan is purely advisory. Woodside says it will take shareholder feedback onboard when determining its path on climate change going forward.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails