25 may 2016

EsxonMobil Faces Showdown with Shareholders over Climate Change

Major shareholders are questioning the oil majors actions on global warming

By Benjamin Hulac, ClimateWire in Scientific American on May 25, 2016

DALLAS—For years, Exxon Mobil Corp. has held its annual meeting here in a cavernous symphony hall downtown, where shareholders today will discuss the company’s future and cast their ballots on more than a dozen proposals.

But while the location hasn’t changed, the mood outside Exxon has shifted dramatically—particularly on global warming. The company is grappling with low oil prices and investigations from attorneys general into allegations that it downplayed the economic threat of climate change—and today will face a raft of resolutions demanding that it acknowledge and tackle rising temperatures.

“Folks perceive them to be a leader in the fight against addressing climate change,” said Danielle Fugere, president of the As You Sow nonprofit group, one of several that submitted resolutions to Exxon.

“They are the face of the anti-climate movement. And I think that’s why we see so many resolutions against Exxon,” Fugere said.

“They’re such an easy target, but they make themselves an easy target,” added W. Andrew Mims of the Sustainability Group, a division within Boston-based investment house Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge.

Of the 14 resolutions before Exxon, eight deal with global warming or environmental controversies, such as hydraulic fracturing. They prod the oil giant to acknowledge that insurgent energy sources and climate regulations—namely those agreed to by most of the world’s nations under the Paris Agreement—threaten its existence.

Boards of directors typically oppose shareholder resolutions, which rarely pass without support from the board. Exxon opposes all the resolutions slated to be voted on today and petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to keep one climate resolution off the ballot.

As of last night, environmental demonstrators protesting Exxon’s track record on climate change and calling for the sale of company stock were preparing for a rally this morning outside the symphony hall. Nearby they made room for an ice block to be carved with the phrase “#ExxonKnew,” a reference to the revelation that company scientists warned Exxon management of climate change risks decades ago.


>>> Back to list