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The kids are alright: Teen activist battling for a place at the AGL board table

August 25, 2021

The kids are alright: Teen activist battling for a place at the AGL board table

Paying put to the pervasive adage that younger generations are lazy and entitled, one ambitious teenager from Melbourne is lobbying to join the AGL board amid growing fears of a climate catastrophe.

Paying put to the pervasive adage that younger generations are lazy and entitled, one ambitious teenager from Melbourne is lobbying to join the AGL board amid growing fears of a climate catastrophe.

Ashjayeen Sharif – an 18 year-old student and climate activist – is pushing to join the board to advocate for AGL (Australia’s largest carbon emitter) to ditch its coal-fired power stations by 2030.

Instead, Mr Sharif wants to see the company invest into renewable energy, telling shareholders to think about the possible outcomes for themselves and their families if the company fails to act on climate change.

While Mr Sharif will be permitted to make his case at the upcoming AGL annual general meeting, the company’s chair Peter Botten has written to shareholders encouraging them to vote against Mr Sharif’s nomination, noting the young activist’s skill set and experiences would not be of benefit to the board.

The board is also recommending shareholders vote against a resolution to align the company’s business with the Paris Climate Agreement to keep increases in global temperatures below 2 degrees celsius.

AGL is one of fourteen Australian energy providers whose climate commitments were recently found not to align with the Paris Agreement by ClimateWorks Australia researchers Anna Malos and Coral Bravo.

Mr Sharif’s bid for a board seat comes nearly a year after 25 year-old Brisbane man Mark McVeigh successfully sued Rest Super over its approach to climate change.

Mr McVeigh took legal action against Rest Super in 2018, alleging the company had breached the Superannuation Industry Act and the Corporations Act (specifically super funds’ duty to act in members’ best interests) by failing to mitigate its exposure to climate change risks.

The case ended in an out-of-court settlement which saw the super fund commit to net-zero emissions for its portfolio by 2050.

 

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