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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has told ConocoPhillips and Occidental that they should hold a vote from shareholders on how they plan to reach their new emission-reduction targets, denying requests from the companies to have the SEC throw out investor motions on such votes in the annual meetings.
In response to ConocoPhillips and Occidental, the SEC said on March 19 that the Commission was “unable to concur” with the companies proposing to omit such votes at their meetings.
Occidental Petroleum told the SEC in January that it intended “to omit from its proxy statement and form of proxy for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Shareholders” a shareholder proposal received from Follow This on behalf of Benta B.V.
ConocoPhillips also asked the SEC in early January that the Commission not recommend enforcement action be taken if the Company omits the enclosed shareholder proposal.
The SEC, however, denied those requests, saying in a letter to ConocoPhillips, seen by the Financial Times, “In our view, the proposal does not seek to micromanage the company to such a degree that exclusion of the proposal would be appropriate.”
The SEC under the Biden Administration is now signaling a shift from the SEC under the Trump Administration, which had allowed Exxon in 2019, for example, to throw out such a proposal from the annual shareholders’ meeting ballot because it “would micromanage the company by seeking to impose specific methods for implementing complex policies in place of the ongoing judgments of management.”
ConocoPhillips and Occidental became the first two U.S. oil firms to announce net-zero plans at the end of last year after most European oil majors had already pledged to become net-zero emission businesses by 2050 or earlier.
ConocoPhillips unveiled in October a target to reduce emissions from its operations to net-zero by 2045-2055, saying that its goals are consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. In November, Occidental also announced a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.