Exxon evading goals of the Paris Climate Agreement?

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Exxon Seeks to Stifle Shareholder Engagement and Evade Responsibility for Climate Impacts and goals of the Paris Accord claim activists.

BERKELEY, CA-JAN. 28, 2020-ExxonMobil filed a motion this week to exclude from its proxy a climate-related shareholder resolution asking whether and how the company intends to align its business model with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Shareholders define Paris-aligned as taking responsibility for Scope 3 product emissions, setting net zero greenhouse gas reduction targets (preferably for 2050), and aligning capital expenditures with a net-zero goal.

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The resolution calls attention to the significant climate risk Exxon creates. At a time when every company should be taking responsibility for reducing its climate-related emissions, ExxonMobil is doubling down on its investment in carbon-intensive oil and gas infrastructure and production.

Climate change is an issue of deep concern for shareholders due to the risk it creates, not only to the company, but to shareholder portfolio value. Oil and gas companies must begin redefining their business plans or be caught unprepared for a low-carbon future. ExxonMobil has been asked repeatedly by shareholders to take action commensurate with the risk, yet has failed to take appropriate measures in stark contrast to other oil and gas companies that are taking action.

Exxon and goals of the Paris Accord

Shell announced net-carbon footprint reduction ambitions and has decreased its 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 and wrote off significant unaligned assets.

In contrast, ExxonMobil continues to invest heavily in its oil and gas operations, with no comprehensive policy or plan in place to reduce its climate impacts.

Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow, had this to say about Exxon’s action:

“Each year, Exxon becomes more hostile toward its investors and buries its head further in the sand to ignore the world changing around it. Doubling down on investments in oil and gas while claiming Paris alignment is unacceptable. The company’s efforts to stifle shareholder concern about the climate crisis is wholly inexcusable.”

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment at the Church Commissioners for England, who leads Climate Action 100+ engagement with ExxonMobil alongside New York State Common Retirement Fund, 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.”