At Annual Meeting, Chevron Investors Achieve Historic Majority Vote on Paris-Aligned Climate Lobbying
BlackRock, world’s largest asset manager, sends sharp message to ExxonMobil board over poor climate risk governance, immediately issues vote bulletin
May 28, 2020 /3BL Media/ - Investors sent a sharp message to both Chevron and ExxonMobil today over the companies’ failure to align their lobbying with the goals of the Paris Agreement and their refusal to engage with investors on climate risk, respectively.
At Chevron, a resolution asking the company to produce a report disclosing the extent to which its lobbying aligns with the Paris Agreement achieved an historic 53% majority in its first ever year on the ballot, a result that “puts Chevron, and companies everywhere, on notice that investors view lobbying as a critical part of a company’s core climate strategy,” according to Ceres senior director of oil and gas Andrew Logan.
The shareholder proposal was led by investor BNP Paribas Asset Management and supported by Ceres Investor Network members as well as investor signatories of the Climate Action 100+ initiative.
Logan added: “Majority votes on climate resolutions are here to stay, and companies had better get used to them. Chevron’s investors have proven that climate risk is a real financial risk, and that how a company lobbies matters to investors in their evaluation of that risk. They suspect Chevron is falling short, and they held them to account today with this majority vote.”
Last September, investors with a combined $6.5 trillion in assets under management urged companies to ensure corporate and trade association lobbying are consistent and aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Similar resolutions on climate-related lobbying disclosure are on the ballot at General Motors and Caterpillar, and will be voted on at their annual meetings in the next two weeks.
At Exxon, the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock sent a sharp rebuke to the company’s board, putting its significant weight behind a proposal to separate the board chair and the CEO position, and voting against two of the company’s board members specifically on the grounds of its governance around climate change.
BlackRock took the significant step of discussing and explaining its position in a published bulletin, where it said: “We continue to see a gap in the company’s disclosure and action with regard to several components of its climate risk management...we have not seen independent leadership of the board in either our direct engagement with board members, or through outcomes that signal the company is approaching these risks with the sense of urgency embraced by the market, investors, and the company’s peers.”
Logan added: “When the world’s largest investor cites a failure on climate risk in its votes against two members of your board and its vote to strip the CEO of its position as board chair, you know you’ve got a problem. Exxon, as well as the rest of its investors, should hear this message loud and clear.”
“Climate change poses a systemic risk for intergenerational investors like CalPERS.” said Anne Simpson, Interim Managing Director, CalPERS. “It is time for Exxon to make good on its support for the Paris Agreement by setting targets for emissions reduction that put words into action. Shareholders will hold the board accountable for making good on that promise. It is our fiduciary duty to do so in order to protect our members’ assets from the risks climate change is bringing with force.”
While Shell, BP, Eni, Repsol, Total and other oil and gas majors have recently announced climate commitments following dialogues with investors, Exxon and Chevron have taken no such steps to assure investors they are planning for a low- or net-zero emissions transition.
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.