The U.K.'s biggest retirement plan by participants said it will back a climate resolution asking for France's Total SA to adopt a tougher stance on climate change at its annual shareholder meeting next week.
The resolution was brought by 11 European money managers last month, in another example of investors pressuring big oil to tackle environmental challenges. Since then, Total has set out bold commitments to eliminate most of its emissions by 2050, joining others such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP.
The French oil major's latest plan is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done, said Katharina Lindmeier, responsible investment manager at the National Employment Savings Trust, London. Total should include additional measures on how it will curb pollution from energy products used by its customers — so-called Scope 3 emissions.
"This shareholder resolution calls for what we believe are vital next steps for Total — a more ambitious Scope 3 target that goes beyond regions where governments have already committed to net-zero emissions, and providing more information on how it'll help customers achieve these reductions," she said.
Total didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The retirement plan, known as NEST, was set up by the U.K. government in 2011 to ensure employers offer workplace plans to employees. It claims to be the country's biggest pension fund by participants — 9 million. It has £10.5 billion ($12.8 billion) of assets under management, of which about £12 million is invested in Total.
It is also a signatory of Climate Action 100 Plus, a group of investors who together manage about $40 trillion of assets and has forced companies to put sustainability at the heart of their business models.
"This is a great show of support from Nest, which we hope will encourage its peers to vote similarly," said Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at non-profit group ShareAction, which helped file climate-related resolutions at companies such as Barclays.
Total is seeking net-zero emissions from its own worldwide operations, known as Scope 1 and 2, by 2050 or sooner. It's targeting Scope 3 neutrality in Europe by that year or earlier. The company also wants to cut the average carbon intensity of energy products used worldwide by its customers by at least 60% by 2050, with intermediate steps of 15% by 2030 and 35% by 2040.
It plans to spend 20% of its capital expenditure on low-carbon electricity by 2030, up from 10% currently.
While the major European oil companies have set bold targets, the Transition Pathway Initiative — which assesses a company's readiness to move to a low-carbon economy — earlier this month warned net-zero claims are overstated and not enough was being done to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Total's annual general meeting is scheduled on May 29.