Investors ask ExxonMobil for detailed business plan on how the Major will adapt to a decarbonizing economy, reduce dependence on fossils, and add renewables
BOSTON AND OAKLAND, CA ///December 14, 2017/// In the wake of ExxonMobil acquiescing this week to the demands of institutional investors for more analysis and disclosure of the risks to its core oil business posed by climate change, impact investment manager Arjuna Capital and shareholder representative As You Sow today filed a resolution calling on ExxonMobil to produce a detailed report, explaining how the company will address the global transition toward a “low carbon economy.”
Arjuna and As You Sow filed the “Low Carbon Business Model” resolution at Exxon last year.
The shareholder proposal states: “With board oversight, shareholders request ExxonMobil issue a report … describing how the Company could adapt its business model to align with a decarbonizing economy by altering its energy mix to substantially reduce dependence on fossil fuels, including options such as buying, or merging with, companies with assets or technologies in renewable energy, and/or internally expanding its own renewable energy portfolio, as a means to reduce societal greenhouse gas emissions and protect shareholder value.”
Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital, said: “Major oil companies face major disruption to their current business models from the global imperative to limit climate change to less than 2 degrees, competition from cheap renewables, and electric vehicles. Total, Shell and Statoil have already responded by making meaningful commitments to clean energy such as wind and solar. In fact, 2016 saw clean energy investments by oil companies more than double. Exxon need only look to their peers for predictive business models that protect investors from the risks of a decarbonizing economy, including stranded carbon assets. Investors need to understand the long game—how these oil giants will actually address climate risks going forward. Business as usual is not an option.”
Over the past decade, Exxon has been under mounting pressure from the descendants of the founding members of Rockefeller family, highly visible institutional investors and faith and social progress groups, to disclose more information on climate. Under increasing pressure from prosecutors and global regulators, Exxon informed the SEC on Monday that it would stop resisting motions filed by dissident shareholders asking for climate risk disclosure.
As You Sow President Danielle Fugere said: “The 2016 Pars global agreement to substantially decarbonize the economy by 2040 means that even the world’s largest oil company will not thrive conducting business-as-usual. We are asking Exxon to start planning for and to help build a future in which the world will continue to thrive.”
The “business model” shareholder engagement at Exxon follows a long history of successful and well-publicized shareholder activism in the oil and gas space. In 2014, ExxonMobil wrote a report in response to Arjuna Capital/Baldwin Brothers and As You Sow on the potential for unburnable stranded carbon assets, following a landmark negotiation with the shareholders. ExxonMobil continues to argue that none of its carbon assets will be stranded, based on their internal projections of unabated global energy demand and a belief that global governments will not take meaningful action to curb global warming. With this resolution, investors underscore the need for a more robust analysis from the Company of the changing energy markets and its role in that new market.
Arjuna Capital is an investment firm focused on sustainable and impact investing. For more information, visit www.Arjuna-Capital.com.
As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.