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Church Commissioners lose ExxonMobil fight

Posted on: May 26, 2016 3:39 PM
ExxonMobil's oil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Adbar

[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Church Commissioners for England have lost their bid to force energy giant ExxonMobil to report annually on the impact of climate change reduction efforts. More than 60 per cent of shareholders backed the company’s board. The failure to secure the motion at the company’s AGM in Dallas, Texas, yesterday (Wednesday), came despite significant support from a large number of major institutional investors.

Some 38.2 per cent of shareholders backed the resolution, which the Commissioners co-filed with the New York State Comptroller. But the board, whose objection to the motion went as far as them asking the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to exclude the resolution from the AGM’s agenda, managed to secure 61.8 per cent of the vote.

The Commissioners – the investment arm of the Church of England – describe the vote as “a significant shareholder revolt” and signalled that it would continue to engage with the company on climate change issues.

The resolution, co-filed with the New York State Comptroller, was backed by a number of large investors, including major fund managers and pension funds Amundi, AXA Investment Management, BNP Paribas, Calpers, Legal & General Investment Management, Natixis Asset Management, New York City Retirement Fund, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global and Schroder’s.

“We are delighted to have got the highest ever vote for a climate change proposal at an ExxonMobil AGM,” the head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners, Edward Mason, said. “This is a significant show of strength on climate disclosure at Exxon by shareholders.

“Considering the scale of this vote, we urge Exxon to sit down urgently with its investors to agree the reporting it will provide on the risk that climate change policy poses to its business. Following the Paris Agreement, the time for climate risk reporting has well and truly arrived and the investor call for it is clear. It will not go away.”

Last year, the Church Commissioners secured similar motions at the AGM of Exxon’s competitors, Shell and BP, with the backing of their boards. Those companies will now report annually on how they will be impacted by efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions.