A University of Melbourne student is looking to pull off a corporate coup for the ages, as he seeks to land on the board of directors of struggling energy retailer AGL.
Freshman Ashjayeen Sharif on Monday announced his campaign to become director of Australia’s largest power producer. Supported by Greenpeace, Sharif operates on a platform of getting rid of AGL’s aging coal plants and replacing them with renewable energy.
“I am a young person worried about climate change so I decided to take matters into my own hands and go straight to the source – AGL, Australia’s biggest climate pollution company,” Sharif said.
“The current leaders of AGL have shown that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing on climate change, so I am stepping up to become a director because I am convinced I could do a better job. “
Posted as a full-page ad in Monday’s Australian Financial Review, Sharif wrote an open letter to AGL and its shareholders, asking them to support his offer at the AGM on September 22.
“Seasons of extreme fires, crippling droughts, massive flooding. The collapse of our food systems, and untold damage to our economy. all of this will happen in my life, and that of your children. It’s not the future I want, “he wrote, noting
“If AGL moves the shutdown of the Loy Yang A and Bayswater power plants to 2030 or earlier – the date that climate science marks as the deadline for shutting down coal – young people like me have a better chance of having.” a safe and healthy future. “
Currently, AGL plans to close Bayswater in 2035, with Victoria’s Loy Yang A to follow in 2047, as part of what the company calls “an orderly transition.”
Self-proclaimed to AGL’s board of directors, Sharif promises if elected that he will use his new position to push the company to exit coal sooner and turn it into an “energy powerhouse.” renewable ”.
“I am furious at the failure of the board and management to control the speed and scale of the transition to renewable energy,” Sharif said. “Their obsession with coal has cost shareholders billions of dollars when AGL could have turned into a renewable superpower.”
AGL bleeds money
The offer comes at a difficult time for AGL, which has become the target of environmental and corporate activists.
Called “Australia’s biggest polluter” by Greenpeace, the company last week announced a loss of $ 2.06 billion as it languishes in an “extremely difficult” low-margin energy market that has been shaken by the rapid development of renewable energies.
After resisting pressures to throw them away, AGL’s strategy of clinging to aging and expensive coal-fired power plants does not appear to be profitable. One of its biggest, Bayswater, now appears to be becoming unsustainable after its biggest customer, aluminum smelter Toamgo, announced it would run on renewable energy when its contract with AGL expires.
This is the latest blow for the energy supplier, which has seen its value drop by 70% since 2017. Shareholders have expressed their frustration and put the board of directors on notice, after launching a strike against its report pay in October.
A second strike at next month’s AGM, requiring only a 25% dissenting vote, would spill over the board and trigger the dissolution of all non-executive directors.
Given the prevailing sentiment among shareholders, Sharif can find a lot of people who agree that a change in leadership is needed.