Exxon Mobil Shareholders Pass Historic Climate Motion
- Author: Carolyn Briggs Jun 01, 2017,
Jun 01, 2017, 23:08
The vote, coupled with recent majority votes at Occidental Petroleum and PPL Corporation, represent a historic shift in investor support for climate risk disclosure said Ceres. The vote is a defeat for Exxon and a victory for environmentalists and shareholder activists, who saw support for their proposal grow from 38 percent a year ago. The company argued that it already provides sufficient information on the potential impact of changing technologies and energy demand on its asset portfolio.
Asset manager BlackRock Inc backed the proposal, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Shares of Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. rose 16 percent in 2016 but have dropped 10 percent since the start of this year.
Among other top Exxon shareholders, spokespeople for State Street Corp and Vanguard Group declined to comment on the vote.
The climate-change resolution was submitted by the NY state retirement fund.
"This majority vote sends a resounding message that market forces are continuing to drive toward a low carbon transition, and investors expect companies - especially carbon-intensive companies like Exxon - to show how they are addressing the corresponding risks and opportunities", said Sue Reid, vice president of climate and energy at Ceres.
He also said board directors would review a policy created to bar them from meeting individually with big shareholders, a practice criticized by the climate proposal sponsors.
Exxon said that its chairman said during the meeting that the company will consider all feedback from shareholders, and that votes receiving a majority vote will be reconsidered by the board.
Former Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson is secretary of state in the Trump administration, but reportedly supports USA remaining part of the global pact.
Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction, a responsible investment campaign organisation, said the resolution was "excellent news, marking a step-change in investor sentiment for climate engagement".
Protesters, some in skeleton costumes, held up signs saying "Exxon Lied" across the street from Wednesday's annual meeting. Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services had recommended shareholders reject the executive pay plan.
The vote at ExxonMobil comes after recent majority votes at USA fossil fuel companies Occidental Petroleum and PPL Corporation, where a majority of shareholders voted against the companies on climate change disclosure resolutions. Exxon had opposed both proposals.
"Energy needs are a function of population and living standards", Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said at the company's annual meeting on January 1.