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Auckland Airport shareholder pushing climate change agenda

Auckland Airport shareholder pushing climate change agenda at upcoming AGM

By Rebecca Howard

Oct. 5 (BusinessDesk) - Auckland International Airport shareholder Peter Wakemen is seeking support for three proposals to safeguard the company from possible future fuel supply disruption, to cut carbon emissions and to lobby the government to use so-called "debt-free money" to fund climate initiatives.

Auckland Airport's board of directors said it does not support the proposals ahead of its annual general meeting on Oct. 26 but is unanimously in favour of the re-election of two board members, the election of a new nominee and a slight increase in directors' remuneration.

In his first proposal, Wakeman wants Auckland Airport to investigate ways that Jet A1 fuel could be unloaded from a ship via pipeline to holding tanks on airport grounds that could be used by any company which supplies fuel to required standards.

The proposal comes after damage to the pipeline between the Marsden Point refinery and the Auckland depot recently disrupted fuel supply, prompting a joint industry and government response.

The board, however, shot down the idea stating it is already considering ways in which any future upstream pipeline issues could be addressed and noting these are not limited to a pipeline from a ship to fuel facilities on or adjacent to airport grounds. It also underscored that the fuel supply disruption was primarily an issue between the fuel suppliers and their airline customers and it intends to participate in any review.

The board also said the company will be conducting its own assessment, which considers the end-to-end resilience and capacity of the Jet A1 from the refinery right through to the airport owned hydrant network.

"The review will balance various factors, including risk, resilience, economic viability as well as environmental factors associated with the various transportation and fuel storage options," it said.

The second proposal is for Auckland Airport to "investigate other areas of the business that reduce CO2 emissions that the company can be involved in due to forecast climate change." Again, the board said it unanimously does not support the resolution. "Auckland Airport believes climate change policy is best dealt with at a government level," it said. It also noted that the company has already implemented significant measures to reduce climate change impact and its total operational carbon emissions have reduced by 21 percent over the past five years while its emissions per passenger have reduced by 41 percent.

In his third proposal, Wakeman is calling on Auckland Airport to lobby the government to support the use of "debt-free money to make climate change financially viable," rather than using the proceeds from tax or debt to private bankers to reduce emissions.

In response, the board said it does not support the resolution as it is confident the use of debt-free money would not gain the required support from government and is an issue more appropriately considered at a government level. It does not consider the use of debt-free money as "a practical or realistic way to achieve successful sustainable environmental outcomes," it said. Rather, the best environmental outcomes can be achieved by collaborating with industry peers.

Wakeman, who is also a shareholder at Meridian Energy, made similar proposals ahead of that company's meeting on Oct. 26.

The board is in favour of the re-election of Justine Smyth and James Miller and the election of Julia Hoare. Finally, it is seeing to increase the total quantum of annual directors fees by $27,353 to $1.53 million to be divided up by directors as they deem appropriate.

Auckland Airport's shares recently fell 2.2 percent to $6.30, and are up 3 percent so far this year.


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