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AGL defends pace of shift to renewables

·2-min read

Energy provider AGL has defeated climate activists' attempts to more quickly part with its coal-fired power, including an 18-year-old challenger for a board role.

Shareholders criticised the company's declining financial performance amid its shift to renewable energy during an annual general meeting on Wednesday. AGL last month reported a full year loss of $2.05 billion as wholesale electricity prices fell as the industry moves to renewables.

Environmentalist and shareholder Ashjayeen Sharif contested the election of directors and argued the company was not doing enough in clean energy.

AGL needed to move away from coal by 2030 to help provide a safer future, he told investors.

Australia's biggest carbon-emitter plans to close some of its coal-fired power stations but says moving to renewables will take longer than 2030.

Mr Sharif's bid for a board role looked likely to fail, based on preliminary votes. Greenpeace claimed Mr Sharif's bid was the first time in the world a climate activist stood for the board of a major energy provider.

However, AGL Chairman Peter Botten earlier said the board was aiming to hire a new director with skills in climate change risk.

Board nominee and Bendigo Bank chair Jacqueline Hey was re-elected.

A shareholder resolution that AGL agree to the carbon emission reduction targets of the United Nation's Paris Agreement also failed at the meeting.

AGL has proposed to split its carbon-heavy operations from renewable ones. The AGL Australia business would offer renewable energy to consumers , while a new company called Accel Energy would retain the coal-fired power stations.

The company says it holds the largest portfolio of renewable energy assets of any ASX-listed business.

Mr Botten acknowledged shareholder frustrations with the AGL share price at the meeting. Shares have plummeted in the past two years.

On Wednesday, however, AGL shares were up 3.62 per cent to $5.72 by 1434 AEST.

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