DALLAS///May 31, 2017/// More than $210 billion worth of shares (62 percent) at Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting today were cast in favor of increased disclosures to shareholders given growing concerns about the climate-related risks of stranded carbon assets. The stunning climate-related vote was on a resolution sponsored by The Church of England and New York State. The vote followed a 38% vote last year, and a similar 2014 resolution filed by Arjuna Capital/Baldwin Brothers Inc. and As You Sow.
In 2014, ExxonMobil wrote a report in response to the Arjuna Capital/Baldwin Brothers and As You Sow proposal on the potential for unburnable stranded carbon assets, following a landmark negotiation with shareholders. At that time, ExxonMobil maintained that none of its carbon assets will be stranded, based on its internal projections of unabated global energy demand and a belief that global governments will not take meaningful action to curb global warming.
Dissatisfied that Exxon’s 2014 disclosures did not address climate risk in a meaningful way, institutional investors have been pressing the company to disclose more.
Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said: “Today’s vote is a stunning victory for investors in ExxonMobil and other oil and gas majors. We have watched Exxon closely, year after year, continue to invest in high-cost fossil fuel reserves in the face of global climate change, the Paris Climate Agreement, and disruptive technology development. This is no longer a prudent path forward for the companies or its investors. Exxon shareholders have spoken, and they believe, as we do, that the company needs to acknowledge the risk. Denial is not a viable business plan.”
Additionally, this is the second year Arjuna Capital and Baldwin Brothers, Inc, have filed a proposal demanding Exxon prioritize returning more capital to shareholders in light of increasingly risky investments in potentially stranded carbon assets. Exxon contested the proposal at the SEC for the past two years, but lost its challenge again this year, which cleared the way for a vote. A memo to shareholders is available at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/34088/000121465917003519/d511171px14a6g.htm
Chatham House, the London-based Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs and 2nd most influential global think tank, advocates prioritizing capital distributions over reserve growth, stating: “A major new strategy for the IOCs [Integrated Oil Companies] could be to shrink their capital base to match specific demand; shareholders will then benefit from the value released from their shares.” https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/international-oil-companies-death-old-business-model#sthash.VrQVWX2x.dpuf
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