Other Group

Follow This

Website:

www.follow-this.org

Type:

Environmentalist Organization

Formation:

2015

Executive Director:

Mark van Baal

Location:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Follow This is an environmentalist organization that engages in shareholder activism against energy companies like Shell and Exxon to force reductions in carbon emissions and a transition to weather-dependent energy. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Follow This engages shareholders in publicly traded energy companies to file resolutions that demand said companies adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement. 1 2 3 4

History

Follow This was founded by Mark van Baal, a former salesman of refrigeration machineries in Europe. Van Baal eventually became a journalist and climate activist after seeing former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. After 10 years writing on climate change, van Baal concluded that energy companies only listen to shareholders. This led van Baal to create Follow This as a website in 2015 that aided people in buying a share in the Dutch energy company Shell for roughly €30 (approximately $31.50). The purpose of the website was to create a united block that held at least €5 million euros in shares (approximately $5.25 million), enough to submit a resolution at the Shell shareholder meeting. 5

Activities

Follow This is an environmentalist organization based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, that engages in shareholder activism to force companies to stop exploration for traditional energy sources and devote themselves to climate change mitigation. The goal of the organization is to transition to a “net-zero-emissions” energy system. 6 7 8

Follow This claims to have over 10,000 members who vote at shareholder meetings of publicly-traded oil and gas companies. The organization helps shareholders file resolutions at these shareholder meetings “that put climate action on the ballot” to force oil companies to invest billions of dollars into weather-dependent energy. Follow This pushes investors to buy shares in companies to “stop climate change, not to make a financial profit.” 9 10

In 2017, Follow This claimed credit for six percent of Shell shareholders voting on a resolution to align its emissions targets with the Paris Climate Agreement. Van Baal and Follow This continued to fight with Shell leadership in 2018, claiming credit for Shell’s decision to reduce its carbon footprint in half by 2050. Follow This has filed eight climate resolutions with Shell. 11 12

In January 2024, Exxon filed a lawsuit to block a shareholder resolution proposed by Arjuna Capital and Follow This. The resolution was submitted to force Exxon to significantly reduce carbon emissions, including stopping the combustion of the oil and gas Exxon produced. Exxon argued that the resolution would require the company to “change the nature of its ordinary business or to go out of business entirely.” Arjuna Capital and Follow This dropped the resolution in February 2024, but Exxon continued its lawsuit in order to prevent future activists’ shareholder action. Follow This has filed three climate resolutions with Exxon. 13 14

Follow This has also filed five climate resolutions with BP, four climate resolutions with Equinor, five climate resolutions with Chevron, one climate resolution with TotalEnergies, two climate resolutions with ConocoPhillips, two climate resolutions with Occidental, and two climate resolutions with Phillips66. 15

People

The founder and executive director of Follow This is Mark van Baal. Previously, van Baal was a sales manager for Carrier Corporation and a climate change journalist who wrote in Technisch Weekblad, Intermediair, FD Energie Pro, Maritiem Nederland, and FEM Business. In 2015, van Baal founded Follow This. 16

The chairman of the supervisory board of Follow This is Rens van Tilburg. Tilburg is also the director of Sustainable Finance Lab, a member of the Banking Stakeholder Group of the European Banking Authority, and a member of the Monitoring Commission of Sociaal-Economische Raad. 17 18

Partners

Large shareholders allied with Follow This include Actiam, Van Lanschott Kempen, MN, the Blue Sky Group, and the Church of England. 19

References

  1. The Editorial Board. “The Exxon directors and the Proxy Abusers.” The Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2024. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-mobil-proxy-voting-shareholder-resolution-arjuna-capital-follow-this-afe881fa?st=dhalhpvq39knpf2&reflink=article_email_share.
  2. “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
  3. “Buying a share.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/how-it-works/.
  4. Follow This Past Resolutions.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/past-resolutions/.
  5.  “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
  6. The Editorial Board. “The Exxon directors and the Proxy Abusers.” The Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2024. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-mobil-proxy-voting-shareholder-resolution-arjuna-capital-follow-this-afe881fa?st=dhalhpvq39knpf2&reflink=article_email_share.
  7. “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
  8. “Buying a share.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/how-it-works/.
  9. The Editorial Board. “The Exxon directors and the Proxy Abusers.” The Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2024. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-mobil-proxy-voting-shareholder-resolution-arjuna-capital-follow-this-afe881fa?st=dhalhpvq39knpf2&reflink=article_email_share.
  10. “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
  11.  “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
  12. “Follow This Past Resolutions.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/past-resolutions/.
  13. The Editorial Board. “The Exxon directors and the Proxy Abusers.” The Wall Street Journal. May 21, 2024. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-mobil-proxy-voting-shareholder-resolution-arjuna-capital-follow-this-afe881fa?st=dhalhpvq39knpf2&reflink=article_email_share.
  14. “Follow This Past Resolutions.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/past-resolutions/.
  15. “Follow This Past Resolutions.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/past-resolutions/.
  16. “Mark van Baal.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.linkedin.com/in/markvanbaal/.
  17. “Rens Van Tilburg.” LinkedIn. Accessed June 12, 2014. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rens-van-tilburg-3632113/.
  18. “Governance.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/governance/.
  19. “Our Story.” Follow This. Accessed June 12, 2024. https://www.follow-this.org/our-story/.
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