Shareholders of Exxon Mobil and Chevron (at Dallas and San Ramon, respectively) have rejected a number of resolutions aimed at battling climate change.
Had they been signed, the resolutions would have required them to
- Add a climate change expert to its board
- Publish an annual report on the subject
- Pursue policies that limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius
As he beat back proposal after proposal to force his company to take more action on climate change Rex Tillerson, chairman, president and CEO of ExxonMobil, said cutting oil production was “not acceptable for humanity.”
A large number of protesters gathered in Dallas carrying banners of #ExxonKnew.
Writing for the Guardian, Claudia Black-Kalinsky tells how her father, an Exxon scientist, first told senior management about greenhouse gases in the 1970s.
“In 1977, he briefed some of Exxon’s top executives about the risks of burning fossil fuels. A year later, in recapping his presentation in an internal company memo, he wrote: 'Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.'
"By the end of that 10-year window, however, company executives had started ignoring science, cancelling research projects and investing in “spin”. They poured millions of dollars into advocacy groups and public relations campaigns designed to cast doubt on the scientific realities of climate change.”
Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, tells of how they and some other organizations received “a letter signed by 13 members of Congress claiming that we may be violating Exxon’s right to free speech. They’re requesting that we divulge any communication we may have had with state officials and many private organizations with regard to looking into what Exxon knew about climate change and when.”
“The signers of the letter clearly want to send a message that advocacy organizations and others should only pursue their rights to petition the government, exercise free speech and enjoy freedom of association at their own peril. In short, it’s a blatant attempt to use governmental power to find and deter anyone that shares our values and wants to join us in our efforts,” she adds.
The Exxon CEO claims his company invested $7 billion in green technology, but the science and technology had not yet achieved the breakthroughs needed to compete with fossil fuels.
“Until we have those, just saying ‘turn the taps off’ is not acceptable to humanity,” Tillerson said. “The world is going to have to continue using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not.”
Major fossil fuel companies and trade groups spend nearly $115 million a year against efforts to reduce carbon emissions. American Petroleum Institute, Exxon Mobil and Shell reportedly spend $65, $27 and $22 million, respectively, every year to block climate policy.
In comparison, supporters of climate change legislation have annual budget of about $5 million. They may not stand a chance against the industry giants.
Some good did come out of the meeting though. Exxon Mobil shareholders agreed and voted in favor of a proxy access rule that could make it easier for minority shareholders to nominate outsiders like climate change scientist onto the board.
This is being seen as a potential victory for environmentalists.