Investor con­cern over cli­mate im­pact

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT / INTERNATIONAL - Gary McWil­liams

EXXON Mo­bil in­vestors will push to meet with oil com­pany of­fi­cials this sum­mer to hash out el­e­ments of a cli­mate im­pact analysis fol­low­ing a share­holder vote call­ing for stud­ies of tech­nol­ogy and cli­mate-re­lated risks to its busi­ness.

Exxon has said that it will re­con­sider its op­po­si­tion to the re­quest, not that it would be­gin dis­cus­sions or ini­ti­ate new stud­ies.

The share­holder pro­posal, filed by 54 groups, in­clud­ing fi­nan­cial, re­li­gious and cor­po­rate gov­er­nance ac­tivists, won the sup­port on Wed­nes­day of 62 per­cent of Exxon hold­ers.

“I an­tic­i­pate we’ll be hav­ing a meet­ing this sum­mer,” said Tracey Rem­bert, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of Catholic Re­spon­si­ble In­vest­ing at Chris­tian Broth­ers In­vest­ment Ser­vices, one of the 54 co-fil­ers.

The White House’s de­ci­sion on Thurs­day to with­draw from the Paris agree­ment on cli­mate change has no bear­ing on the pro­posal. “We ex­pect the sce­nario as­sess­ment will start to be done quickly at Exxon,” Rem­bert said.

The in­vestors behind the pro­posal rou­tinely met in past years with Exxon be­tween De­cem­ber and Fe­bru­ary to dis­cuss an­nual meet­ing pro­pos­als, she said. Ear­lier dis­cus­sions be­cause of the ma­jor­ity vote are in or­der.

Rem­bert said the group will ask for Exxon to con­duct sce­nario plan­ning ex­er­cises that would look at risks from dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy, cli­mate or gov­ern­ment poli­cies. “What are the black swan events that can take place be­yond low oil prices, ag­gres­sive poli­cies or shift­ing con­sumer pref­er­ences?” she said.

The re­con­sid­er­a­tion at Exxon comes as Devon En­ergy and Hess Cor­po­ra­tion own­ers on Wed­nes­day will weigh cli­mate im­pact res­o­lu­tions.

Bal­lot ini­tia­tives press for greater stud­ies of the risk that

The in­vestors behind the pro­posal rou­tinely met in past years with Exxon.

gov­ern­ment car­bon-re­duc­tion ef­forts in the fu­ture make oil and gas re­serves un­eco­nomic to tap, lead­ing to in­vest­ment losses. Study pro­pos­als this year re­ceived at least 40 per­cent ap­proval at Duke En­ergy, Marathon Oil and South­ern, ac­cord­ing to a tally by Ceres, a non-profit group that tracks en­vi­ron­men­tal records of public com­pa­nies.

“When in­vestors make a very strong state­ment at a com­pany the size of Exxon Mo­bil, other com­peti­tors in their in­dus­try take no­tice and may re­con­sider or re­think their investor di­a­logue on these is­sues,” said Bruce Gold­farb, chief ex­ec­u­tive of proxy so­lic­i­tor Okapi Part­ners.

The Exxon share­holder vote will have mi­nor in­flu­ence, be­cause most of the bal­lots likely were al­ready cast, said Danielle Fugere, pres­i­dent of As You Sow, a share­holder ad­vo­cacy group seek­ing a car­bon-risk study at Hess. – Reuters

PHOTO: AP

Petrol prices at a Pitts­burgh Exxon mini-mart. Exxon Mo­bil in­vestors want a cli­mate im­pact analysis.

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