Exxon Mobil must give shareholders climate vote, regulator rules

US oil major, alleged to have lied about the risks of global warming, has been ordered to consider shareholder resolution at next AGM

(Flickr/Mike Mozart)

(Flickr/Mike Mozart)

By Megan Darby

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered Exxon Mobil to give shareholders a vote on how it discloses climate risk data.

The oil major had sought to block a shareholder resolution that would make it reveal how climate action could hit its profits. Exxon argued it already gave enough information.

That was overruled by the regulator, as explained in a letter dated Tuesday 22 March. It found Exxon was not doing as much as investors including New York State’s pension fund and the Church of England asked. Chevron was issued with a similar notification.

New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli welcomed the decision.

“This is a major victory for investors who are working to address the risks that global warming presents to our portfolios,” he said.

“Investors need to know if ExxonMobil is taking necessary steps to prepare for a lower carbon future, particularly now in the wake of the Paris agreement.”

Profile: Meet the investors pushing climate reality on carbon majors

Separately, the Rockefeller Family Fund, which made much of its fortune in oil, announced its intention to immediately divest from Exxon Mobil, coal and tar sands companies.

As the global community works to eliminate fossil fuels, the fund said, “it makes little sense – financially or ethically – to continue holding investments in these companies”.

It singled out Exxon for “morally reprehensible conduct,” referring to allegations it lied to the public about the risks associated with climate change.

“Appropriate authorities will determine if the company violated any laws, but as a matter of good governance, we cannot be associated with a company exhibiting such apparent contempt for the public interest.”

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