Says Exxon lagging peers on climate action

The Church Commissioners for England has reiterated its support for a shareholder resolution filed against the board of ExxonMobil, following Exxon’s move earlier this week to block the resolution from going to a vote in 2020. The Commissioners manage an £8.3bn investment fund, using the income from investments to contribute towards the cost of mission projects, dioceses in low-income areas, bishops, cathedrals, and pensions.

The resolution, filed by activist group As You Sow, asked Exxon to report if and how it intends to bring its operations in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of maintaining global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius. According to the resolution:

“The energy industry is one of the largest contributors to climate change and ExxonMobil is the fourth largest global emitter in the sector. ExxonMobil’s investment choices matter. Every dollar invested in fossil fuel resources increases risk to the economy and investor portfolios.”

The resolution continues to list several of Exxon’s large peers, who have taken more significant steps to align with the Paris Agreement goals:

“Shell announced Scope 3 greenhouse gas intensity reduction ambitions and has decreased reserves life below the industry standard. Total has invested substantially in renewable energy and storage. Equinor rebranded itself from ‘StatOil’ and is diversifying into renewables. Orsted, previously a Danish oil and gas company, sold its fossil fuel portfolio. Repsol announced a net zero by 2050 target.”

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Commissioners, said:

“Exxon is continuing to misjudge the mood of investors on climate risk. The fact remains that Exxon still provides investors no assurance that it has a strategy consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. We co-filed the shareholder proposal filed by As You Sow because it asks Exxon to report clearly if, and how, it plans to align its operations and investments with the goal of restricting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and staving off catastrophic climate impacts. In 2019 Exxon and the SEC blocked our shareholder proposal asking Exxon to set Paris-aligned emissions reduction targets — this must not happen again. Exxon must cease lagging behind its peers on this issue. We call on Exxon not to block this resolution going to a vote in 2020.”

The Church Commissioners is leading the engagement by Climate Action 100+ with Exxon. Climate Action 100+ recently got a significant boost when BlackRock joined the group earlier this month.