Exxon Shareholders’ Historic Vote for Climate Action

Photo: Protests outside Exxon Shareholders Meeting 2017 in Dallas, TX

Leading up to the vote, activists gathered on the street, urging shareholders to take on the burden of environmental leadership. Speaker Molly Rooke from the Dallas Sierra Club said, “It's time to divest from Exxon's pollution, deception, & greed and invest in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy."

DALLAS, TX – After decades of funding climate deceit and denial, shareholders overwhelmingly voted for the inclusion of climate change risks in Exxon’s corporate disclosures. This historic vote came just one day before President Trump’s negligent decision to walk away from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Shareholders gathered on May 31, 2017 to vote on 9 resolutions, with all eyes on a proposal to “Report on Impacts of Climate Change Policies.” The proposal is centered around the “globally agreed upon 2 degree target,” established by the Paris Climate Agreement. With an impressive 62.3% in favor, shareholders voted that Exxon must include climate change mitigation in its profit calculations.

Despite writing to President Trump in defense of the Paris Accord, Exxon’s Board recommended voting against the proposal, citing continued energy demand and technological advances. It will not be so easy for Exxon to claim support of the agreement if the company chooses to ignore a proposal that directly accounts for its impacts. While a resolution is nonbinding, the vote sends a strong signal to Exxon executives that its shareholders understand the significant risks of climate change, and they expect the oil giant to analyze these threats.

This vote also indicates that Exxon’s days of shirking responsibility are over. During closing remarks, CEO Darren Woods commented that “2016 was Exxon’s Safest Year,” yet a terminal in Everett, MA sits unprepared for climate change impacts – placing surrounding communities in immediate danger. There is no better example of Exxon’s failure to take accountability than its response to local residents, who hand-delivered a letter to the Everett Terminal that asked for information regarding the Terminal’s climate readiness. Exxon refused to engage in dialogue and turned its neighbors away.

The Shareholders’ vote was certainly a step towards holding Exxon accountable.

Following the Shareholders meeting, Darren Woods said, “We’ll have to step back and reflect on the vote…” If Exxon does analyze the impacts of climate change polices on its full portfolio, the consequence would require a full acknowledgement of climate change risks and subsequent response.

Exxon, your shareholders have spoken – it’s time to put more than lip service to climate action.

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