Investors Join Forces to Demand U.S. Energy Majors Align with Paris Climate Goals

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA – Shareholder advocate As You Sow, joined by the Church Commissioners for England and other investors, filed a shareholder proposal with ExxonMobil asking the company to respond to the urgent need to align its energy business with the Paris Climate Agreement. As You Sow filed a similar proposal joined by co-filers at Chevron.

For decades, shareholder engagement has provided investors a forum for raising concerns about material risk to companies. The most recent science outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates the narrow window of time in which to act to avoid catastrophic climate impacts. 

As climate impacts accelerate risk across the global economy, shareholders are asking oil and gas companies to take responsibility for reducing their contribution to climate change in alignment with Paris goals. As an example, Climate Action 100+, an initiative representing more than 370 global investors with more than $35 trillion in assets under management, is calling on the world’s largest corporate polluters — including Exxon and Chevron — to reduce emissions in line with Paris goals, implement governance systems needed to execute these plans, and transparently provide relevant climate-related disclosures to investors and the public. 

“Investors recognize that the climate crisis is fundamentally reordering the business world,” said Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow. “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the margins, while continuing business as usual as Exxon and Chevron are doing, is not a successful long-term business plan, especially when competitor companies are implementing new paths to thrive in a low-carbon economy.”

“The Church Commissioners are delighted to co-file As You Sow’s resolution,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners, who manages the Church of England’s endowment fund and, alongside New York State Common Retirement Fund, lead Climate Action 100+ engagement with ExonMobil.

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“Unlike its European peers, Exxon has failed to respond to shareholder requests for assurance that it will pursue a long-term strategy consistent with the well below 2 degrees goal of the Paris Agreement. Earlier this year, Exxon and the SEC blocked our shareholder proposal asking Exxon to set Paris-aligned emissions reduction targets — we call on them not to block from going to a vote in 2020 this straightforward proposal calling for more clarity on Exxon’s intentions in respect of the Paris Agreement’s goal.”

The shareholder resolutions highlight a range of steps energy companies can and should take to help stave off catastrophic climate impacts and become aligned with Paris goals of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees. The resolutions call attention to the need to look beyond implementing efficiency measures in company operations, since these represent only a small portion of the companies’ full carbon footprints.

Carbon Tracker notes that fossil fuel majors must collectively reduce production by more than a third by 2040. Fifty-five percent of Exxon’s production to 2040 is outside Paris’ well below 2 degree goals and Chevron has 35 percent outside the Paris goal. While companies like Chevron are already beginning to experience significant write-downs on fossil fuel assets, neither Chevron nor Exxon have indicated that they will move away from business as usual to a Paris-aligned pathway.

Some competitor oil and gas companies are beginning to demonstrate leadership. CA100+ company Repsol recently became the first oil and gas giant to: set a net-zero by 2050 target, write down projects not Paris Aligned, and outline plans for achieving its significant goal. Other peers including Shell, BP, Equinor, Total, and Orsted are making strides to diversify their energy operations by investing substantially in renewable energy businesses. Exxon and Chevron, on the other hand, continue to lag substantially behind their peers, creating risk both to their companies and to the climate.

For more information on As You Sow’s work on climate change, click here.

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