Big Oil votes down climate resolutions

NEW YORK • ExxonMobil and Chevron investors sided with the oil giants on climate change at annual meetings, rejecting shareholder resolutions to push Big Oil in a greener direction.

Persuading the largest portfolio managers of the need for Big Oil to reorient itself in the light of shifting policies on climate change proved difficult, with a majority of shareholders voting down a trio of climate proposals at both ExxonMobil and Chevron.

At both meetings on Wednesday, the closest vote among the climate-related measures was over a resolution to require the oil companies to perform an annual climate "stress test" of how changing public policies affect assets and long-term business prospects. The measure scored support from 38.2 per cent of ExxonMobil shares, according to preliminary results released. The breakdown was similar at Chevron.

Support was much lower for two other measures, which concerned appointing an independent director at each company with expertise on climate change and taking steps to keep global emissions from rising more than 2 deg C above the pre-industrial level, a central goal of the 2015 Paris climate pact. At least three-quarters of shareholders voted against these proposals at both firms.

ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson said it recognises the importance of climate change, but opposes solutions it views as unrealistic."Until we see (technological change), turning the taps off is not acceptable to humanity."

But Sister Patricia Daly of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment said ExxonMobil was failing in its duty to show "moral leadership" on a crucial energy dilemma of the 21st century.

"As the world moves forward, ExxonMobil stands still," the nun said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2016, with the headline 'Big Oil votes down climate resolutions'. Print Edition | Subscribe