Exxon’s shareholders rejected a proposal to set up a climate change board committee and voted down a proposal for corporate governance changes that some shareholders had proposed to protest the fact that Exxon had left another climate change vote out of the ballot at the annual meeting.
Earlier this year, Exxon asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to decide whether Exxon is required to include a vote on setting carbon emission targets proposed by some shareholders. The SEC sided with Exxon, saying that such proposal “would micromanage the company by seeking to impose specific methods for implementing complex policies in place of the ongoing judgments of management.”
However, Exxon’s shareholders the Church of England and New York State Common Retirement Fund said that Exxon striking out that vote from the annual meeting agenda means that the U.S. supermajor is not taking climate change seriously.
So those two institutional investors put forward a proposal for the separation of the positions of Chair and CEO at ExxonMobil when a new CEO is next chosen.
“Today in Dallas, there is no proposal from Exxon’s Climate Action 100+ leads, because the company has omitted it from the ballot, nor is there any agreed way forward. Company and investors have been in open conflict about climate strategy and disclosure,” Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners for England, said at Exxon’s annual meeting.
The proposal for an independent chairman was voted down with 59.2 percent of the votes against, while the proposal for a board matrix was defeated with 70.2 percent votes against the proposal.
“The result of Exxon refusing to put our shareholder proposal to the vote is that investors have simply expressed their frustration at Exxon’s governance on other ballot items,” Mason said after the meeting. Related: Oil Prices Flat On Minor Crude Draw
Shareholders have become increasingly active in demanding oil firms to account for climate change in their operations, and Exxon’s shareholders have been ones of the most dissatisfied with the U.S. major’s response to their climate activism.
Last week, more than 99 percent of BP’s shareholders voted in favor of a climate change shareholder resolution, pushing the UK oil and gas supermajor to set out a business strategy consistent with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.
Another supermajor, Shell, announced earlier this year its first-ever short-term goals to cut the carbon footprint of its operations and product sales. In December last year, in an industry first, Shell said that it plans to set short-term targets for reducing the net carbon footprint of the energy products it sells, and to link those targets with executive remuneration.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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