Page 28 - Respond 2018 Magazine
P. 28


       Exxon shareholders win

       ‘historic’ climate vote

       against board’s advice

       By Megan Darby

       Shareholders in world’s largest private oil company won a victory that signals deep
       unease about climate change amongst major investors

       The world’s largest private oil company is being forced   goals. But management opposed shareholder demands for
       to reckon with the clash between its business model and   more transparency, insisting none of Exxon’s reserves would
       international climate goals, after a “historic” showdown with   be “stranded” in the global shift to clean energy.
                                                            Woods promised to “step back and reflect” after the result
       At ExxonMobil’s AGM in Dallas, Texas Wednesday 31 May,   was announced.
       62% of shareholders voted in favour of a climate change
       resolution, against the board’s advice, according to a   The Church of England and New York State public pension
       preliminary count. While detailed data is not yet available,   fund, which led the shareholder rebellion, described
       the convincing majority suggests some major funds joined   Wednesday’s victory as “historic” and “unprecedented”.
       sustainable investment activists after the same proposal
       won 38% of the vote last year.                       Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for
                                                            Church Commissioners, said in a statement: “Despite
       Coming amid reports president Donald Trump plans to   strong opposition from the Board, the majority of Exxon’s
       withdraw the US from the Paris climate deal, it signalled   shareholders have sent an unequivocal signal to the
       that concern about climate change is stronger than ever in   company that it must do much more to disclose the impact
       financial circles.                                   on its business of measures to combat climate change.”

       “Investors voting against management at Exxon is a powerful   “Climate change is one of the greatest long-term risks we
       rebuke to the climate denialist policies of this White House,”   face in our portfolio and has direct impact on the core
       said Raj Thamotheram, head of thinktank Preventable   business of ExxonMobil,” added New York State comptroller
       Surprises. “Markets are moving and corporate America would   Thomas DiNapoli. “The burden is now on Exxon Mobil to
       be foolish to bet so much on the protection from this regime.”  respond swiftly and demonstrate that it takes shareholder
                                                            concerns about climate risk seriously.”
       The resolution requires Exxon to disclose how the
       international goal to hold global warming below 2C – as   It piles the pressure on Exxon at the same time as it faces
       agreed in Paris – could dampen future demand for its oil   multiple lawsuits over allegations it deliberately cast doubt
       and gas.                                             on the scientific consensus around climate change, even as
                                                            its internal research confirmed it.
       Thinktank Carbon Tracker estimated in 2015 that Exxon
       was planning to sink $72 billion over the next decade into   Grassroots campaign network has consistently
       developing fuel reserves that would be surplus to the   argued that engaging with Exxon is futile and shareholders
       requirements of a 2C world.                          should take their money elsewhere.

       Despite Trump’s apparent refusal to honour the Paris   “Exxon’s climate lies are finally catching up with them,”
       Agreement, advances in clean technology and policy action   said Jamie Henn, strategic communications director at 350,
       elsewhere have convinced some other oil majors to start   ahead of the vote.
       adjusting their expectations.
                                                            “Any real climate risk assessment will show that Exxon’s
       During the AGM, Exxon chief executive Darren Woods   drill-baby-drill business plan is incompatible with a liveable
       reiterated his company’s support for the Paris Agreement   planet.”
       and call for a revenue-neutral carbon tax to meet climate
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