Shareholders of the world’s biggest oil company defy board to urge better reporting on climate change

Lucy Purdy

In a shock vote, shareholders of ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil company, have voted to force the firm to be more open about the impact of climate change on its business

In a surprise vote on Wednesday, shareholders of the world’s biggest oil company ExxonMobil have urged the company to be more open about the impact on climate change on the business.

Some 62.3 per cent of shareholders reportedly voted for the resolution, going against Exxon’s own management during the company’s annual general meeting held in Dallas, Texas. It is one of a number of similar proposals passed by two energy companies in May alone.

The decision, which a Guardian journalist described as a “public rebuke” came as Donald Trump was widely reported to be preparing to pull out of the Paris climate accord, the agreement signed by nearly 200 countries to address climate change.

Shareholders have sent an unequivocal signal that the company must do much more to disclose the impact on its business of measures to combat climate change

Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners, which led the vote, said: “This is a historic vote – despite strong opposition from the board, the majority of Exxon’s shareholders have sent an unequivocal signal to the company that it must do much more to disclose the impact on its business of measures to combat climate change.

“We are grateful to all of the investors who supported the proposal, and we call on the company to begin urgent engagement with shareholders on how to bring its disclosures in line with those of its peers.”

Mason went on to tell the Guardian that Trump was “acting contrary to Wall Street and the world’s largest investors”.

“Climate change is a material financial risk and shareholders want to know how companies will manage the change to a low carbon economy,” he added.

Exxon’s management reportedly sought to head off the proposal that was championed by the pension funds of the Church of England, New York and California and other large shareholders. It will force the company to conduct an annual ‘stress test’ measuring how its oil assets will be affected by climate change regulation and new technology.


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    Investors are becoming more conscious of the global movement to shift to a greener energy system. They are pushing the company to be ready and to adapt to new realities. This is really good news.

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