Climate Action

Climate Change Takes a Backseat at Annual ExxonMobil and Chevron Shareholder Meetings

Unrelenting resistance accompanied last Wednesday’s shareholder meetings at ExxonMobil and Chevron as executives successfully fought all climate-related proposals made by shareholders. This resistance came in contrast to what was seen at the BP, Shell, and Statoil’s annual meetings earlier this year. Climate-related proposals identical to the ones seen at Exxon and Chevron were passed almost unanimously by their “European brethren”.   Exxon and Chevron shareholders, hoping to see similar decisions made by U.S. executives, were startled to see the oil industry take a split on the issue of climate change. Exxon Chief Executive Rex Tillerson, who didn’t even mention climate change at this year’s shareholder meeting, stated “the ramifications of global warming are unclear because the scientific models simply are not that good” in response to shareholders.   Some good did arise from these meetings – the proposal allowing for qualified shareholders to nominate board members won the highest support at both meetings. This resolution was proposed as a result of existing board members not addressing shareholders’ concerns, such as mitigation of climate change effects. However, shareholder proposals are advisory, therefore it is ultimately the companies’ decision on how to respond to shareholder opinion.   Chevron shares the concerns of the public about climate change risks and mitigation, however they also recognize that to address climate change, “we must create solutions that achieve environmental objectives without undermining growth of the global economy”. A notable climate change-related proposal for Chevron involved reducing capital spending on new projects that deemed risky and costly.   ExxonMobil shares similar views on climate change. They believe strategies to address the risks associated with climate change has to be developed and implemented, however the central importance of energy in the global economy needs to be maintained.   A number of other climate-related resolutions were proposed at the meetings. Three received more than 20 percent of shareholder votes –
  1. “Add someone with climate expertise to the board of directors”
  2. “Provide a detailed report disclosing lobbying expenditures”
  3. “Provide a report on the effects of hydraulic fracturing/shale energy operations”
  U.S. oil companies must follow in the footsteps of European oil industries and enact rather than reject these climate-related proposals that will aid us in mitigating and curbing the effects of climate change.   Avantika Manglik, Intern