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There Is No Moving Exxon From Its Climate Change Position

Exxon Belgium

A nun from an influential interfaith coalition with U.S. $100 billion in assets that include a stake in ExxonMobil is pushing for change, but the supermajor isn’t bowing to anyone on climate change - even, apparently, ‘divine’ forces.

ExxonMobil’s annual meeting saw its shareholders pass a resolution that could see a climate expert join the company’s board, a move that could force the company to face the climate change-related problems that many of its peers have already acknowledged.

The resolution, which will allow shareholders holding a combined 3 percent of Exxon’s stock to nominate new board members, is one of nine climate-change related resolutions that were put up for a vote at the meeting. The other eight were rejected by the majority.

Among the rejected resolutions was one from Sister Patricia Daley, member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), who urged Exxon’s management to start acting on climate change by changing its policies for the future. This one got just 18.5 percent of the votes. Related: Why We Need $120 Oil

This rejection has become the latest example of Exxon’s notorious resistance to even acknowledging climate change, claiming that environmental activists basically overblew things. The New York Attorney General, however, doesn’t seem to think so. Exxon is currently under investigation for covering up information about the effects of the oil industry on the climate, and even before the lawsuit, it surfaced that the oil giant has known of the link between fossil fuel use and climate change for decades, and failed to share evidence of this link with its shareholders. Exxon has denied all claims.

Exxon was among the very few oil industry majors that reported a profit for last year, despite the oil price rout that plunged many in the red. Now, all managers know that shareholders are strongly attached to the bottom lines of the businesses they invest in, but Exxon’s management seems to have neglected the change in investor sentiment lately, especially after the signing of the Paris Agreement, which stipulates a limitation of global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

Investors are worried. Perhaps not all of them are genuinely worried by the effects of climate change on the planet, but they are certainly worried about Exxon’s long-term survival in a new environment of concerted international efforts to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels. In short, they are concerned about future bottom lines, and some of them may get so concerned as to exit the company. Related: Oil Speculators No Longer Confident In Price Crash

For now, Exxon’s management probably feels safe in the knowledge that just one of the nine climate change-related resolutions was passed. But times are a-changing and they are a-changing faster than ever, including the perspective of investors in the energy industry. It’s not unlikely that next annual general meeting will see more support for climate change-related resolutions – the pressure on the industry from governments and environmentalists will only increase – and Exxon may well be forced to change direction.

Changing direction can be smooth if you anticipate it and prepare accordingly. Until now, however, Exxon has been generally using the ostrich tactic, unlike Royal Dutch Shell, whose chief executive recently acknowledged, albeit indirectly, the need to diversify into green energy.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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  • R J Spoley on June 02 2016 said:
    The Sister needs to step back and take a bigger view of the situation. Oil is generated from things that die after living a brief time and then getting entombed. Exxon and a lot of others, find the entombed and bring the remains to the surface and back to life in a different form. In this new form they help all mankind to a better life. Just like Christ. The Sister needs to really take a long hard look at what re - cycling is all about. God may be a geologist.
  • NIck Schroeder, BSME, PE on June 02 2016 said:
    Exxon researched climate change for decades and concluded there was nothing there. CAGW, anthropogenic CO2 driven global warming/climate change, has no substance, no legs, all hat, no cattle. Exxon researchers concluded that clouds and water vapor dominate the atmospheric heat engine, GHGs have negligible influence. Even IPCC AR5 credits clouds with -20 W/m^2 of cooling RF now as opposed to CO2’s 2 W/m^2 of RF accumulated over 261 years. BTW, the scientific community has also known this for decades.

    Was this what Exxon “concealed” from the public and “withheld” from their investors?



  • Lee James on June 04 2016 said:
    I'm looking for Exxon to advocate for transitioning away from burning fossil fuel. European international oil companies are starting to acknowledge the need to transition. The only real issue is: how rapidly do we need to transition?

    Info sources like Wattsupwiththat.com do a great job of massaging complex data into seeming support for their position. While climate reasons for making the transition falls apart (in their estimation), they forget about the health, economic and world security reasons behind transitioning.

    In the end, Whatsup will be seen to have provided a gargantuan mis-service to life on planet Earth.

    As a starting point of a transition campaign, I suggest that Exxon Mobil actively advocate for a progressive carbon tax that is revenue neutral. Exxon says that they believe in such a tax. I don't think it's possible to come up with a more painless marketplace solution, than this kind of a tax that goes easy on consumers. -Time for Exxon to actively advocate for the revenue neutral way of pricing carbon.

    A revenue neutral carbon tax makes burning fossil fuel a little more expensive, while reducing slightly the cost of everything else through a per-household tax rebate or a tax off-set.
  • jawnee logik on June 04 2016 said:
    CO2 is one of nature's fertilizers.

    Perhaps the good sister has shares in one of the growing number of bogus carbon trading scams. Being a so-called good christian would not prevent one from profiting at the expense of another.
  • rbblum on June 04 2016 said:
    OK, so 'global warming' has transformed to become 'climate change' . . . a natural transition of the climate that has existed from the birth of the Earth.

    Otherwise, if the powers that be want to control 'climate change' under the current guidelines, then the population of cows will be capped; limiting the amount of meat for human consumption . . . as well as capping the human population . . . which would be accomplished via warfare and/or the limitation of population copulation.

    At least EXXON is one of the very few corporations standing for 'the truth' and capitalism . . . not supporting the politicians and their ploys to secure more power and more revenues based upon false data and empty promises.

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