Major Shareholder Resolutions on Climate Presented This Week to Chevron and Exxon

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - This week, a couple of important shareholder resolutions will be brought forward in the annual meetings of energy giants Exxon-Mobil and Chevron. Both of these will be asking the companies to take responsibility for past actions, stop funding denial, and to inform shareholders what impacts they can expect to see to their business in the wake of the COP21 meeting in Paris last December, where so many companies and countries have pledged to take significant action to reduce carbon emissions.

Another, somewhat unusual action, suggests replacing the metric used to measure a company’s energy reserves in terms of the generic term BTU (British Thermal Unit) used by scientists instead of the traditional unit of barrels of oil. This simple move could be an important step in decarbonizing the energy industry.

According to Kathy Mulvey, Climate Accountability Campaign Manager, Union of Concerned Scientists, who spoke at a press even this week featuring several organizations, “Together, we will be calling on these fossil fuel companies to stop their climate science deception campaigns, and to begin to align their business models with a carbon constrained world.”

In the past year, information has surfaced revealing the fact the Exxon-Mobil has been aware of the impact of carbon emissions on climate change for decades, and rather than take action by changing their business strategy, chose instead to not only keep it secret, but to actively support a campaign of denial. Legal actions in several states and at the federal level are currently underway to determine whether the company broke any laws in doing this.

Dr. Michael McCracken, a climate scientist with the Climate Institute and UCS, spoke of the “overly optimistic scenario that Exxon-Mobil has been using in their evaluations. He went on to say that “it appears that Exxon-Mobil management has really failed in their fiduciary responsibility to conduct a full due-diligence analysis and stress test that investors expect.” He went on to call on the “the world’s energy leaders to lead rather than obstruct aggressive action.”

Paul Paz y Mino, Director of Outreach & Online Strategy at Amazon Watch, spoke of the need for both “moral responsibility and fiscal accountability” on the part of Chevron management for the environmental crimes, committed by the company’s predecessor, Texaco, in the Amazon region of Ecuador. The company was fined $10 billion last year for these infractions. He, along with indigenous Ecuadorians, will speak out at that company’s annual meeting.

Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow, also spoke about their work with Exxon and other energy companies over the past three years on a carbon asset risk resolution and the potential for stranded assets. After receiving responses from these companies over the past several years that simply restated their commitment to business as usual, this year As You Sow is bringing forward their resolution asking for the adaption of the source-neutral BTU as the metric for the reporting of reserves. With the new metric, the stated reserves need no longer consist of barrels of oil, but could instead be solar installations, or geothermal plants or biofuel facilities.

It’s worth noting that Exxon-Mobil tried to block these resolutions from being presented, but due to legal action brought against the company by As You Sow and other groups, they were overruled by the Securities and Exchange Commission back in March.

Now that the resolution has been allowed to proceed, it remains to be seen how the company and its shareholders will respond to this, and the others requests for action. Will these two fossil fuel giants finally be ready to change their tune?

Image credit: Richard Masoner: Flickr Creative Commons