Woodside shares marching higher despite 'massive blow' on climate

ASX 200 investors are bidding up the Woodside share price on Monday.

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Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) shares are marching higher today.

Shares in the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) energy stock closed on Friday trading for $28.26. In early morning trade on Monday, shares are swapping hands for $28.33, up 0.3%.

For some context, the ASX 200 is up 0.6% at this same time.

This comes despite a 0.6% dip in the Brent crude oil price over the weekend, to US$88.93 per barrel.

And it comes as ASX 200 investors digest how shareholders' rejection of the company's Climate Transition Action Plan (CTAP) at last week's Annual General Meeting (AGM) could impact Woodside shares moving forward.

Here's what's happening.

Woodside shares need to be greener

With markets closed on Thursday, today is only the second day Woodside shares are trading since the AGM on Wednesday.

There were two crucial decisions shareholders were asked to vote on.

First, whether or not to re-elect embattled chairman Richard Goyder.

On that front, Goyder triumphed with 83.4% of shareholders voting in his favour.

On the climate plan, which both Goyder and CEO Meg O'Neill had been fervently backing, shareholders were clearly less than pleased, with 58.4% voting against Woodside's CTAP.

While O'Neill and Goyder will now have to go back to the drawing board, environmental activists celebrated the outcome.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific acting CEO Kate Smolski said the rejection is a "massive blow to Woodside's credibility" (quoted by ABC News).

A number of leading Australian super funds investing in Woodside shares led the rejection vote, including Australian Super.

Australian Super's head of Australian equities, Shaun Manuell said:

After a lot of consideration, we've decided that we still have some ongoing concerns about Woodside's plan to be net zero by 2050, so based on that we've decided to vote against, and we will continue our discussions with the company.

O'Neill was obviously displeased by the vote.

Prior to the vote last week she noted, "I think we all need to be really upfront about the complexity of climate change and the complexity of energy transition, and that's something that we're doing."

Following shareholders' rejection of Woodside's climate plan, O'Neill stated:

The world wants reliable energy, they want cheap energy, they want green energy, and they want all of those three things tomorrow. And the pathway to get from where we are today to where the world would like to be is a pathway that is going to take time.

Now what?

As for what's ahead for Woodside shares in regard to the company's climate action plans, Goyder and O'Neill must now decide whether their CTAP is worth revamping or if they need to start from scratch.

It will also be interesting to see if and when shareholders get to have another vote in the company's hopefully profitable journey to net zero.

According to Goyder (courtesy of The Australian Financial Review)

It's all part of the business now, part of the strategy.

The transition is not simple. It'll take time, it will take some trust, it will take a heck of a lot of money, and ensuring that there's affordable and available energy on the way through is also important.

Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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