Activist ExxonMobil Shareholders Turn Up Heat

May 23, 2007
Shareholders seek board shakeup at world's largest oil company over climate change issue

A group of ExxonMobil shareholders, including large public US pension funds, state boards of investment and state treasurers from California to Connecticut, said this week that they planned to increase pressure on oil giant ExxonMobil to change its climate change policies.

The investors, who also include the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement System, said they would seek to reform ExxonMobil's position on global warming at the upcoming annual shareholder meeting.

"ExxonMobil's go-slow approach on renewables, its resistance to a strong national climate policy and its campaign to muddy the waters on climate science is troubling to investors," said California state controller and CalSTRS board member John Chiang.

The activist investors plan to seek the removal of Michael Boskin, the head of ExxonMobil's Public Issues Committee, saying that Boskin -- who is backed by the board for re-election -- was being targeted because he has the power to change ExxonMobil's stance on climate change.

Gantt Walton, an ExxonMobil spokesman, said the company disagreed with the investors' criticism and said ExxonMobil was moving to improve its energy efficiency while also seeking to cut its greenhouse gas emissions.

Investors also said they will also be supporting shareholder resolutions urging ExxonMobil to set specific targets for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions and to boost its spending on renewable energy technologies.

Most scientists say greenhouse gases are responsible for climate change.

The investors' announcement coincided with the release Wednesday of ExxonMobil's 2006 Corporate Citizenship Report which said that ExxonMobil had cut its carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas emissions by about eight million metric tons last year and said the company was making continued investments in energy-efficient equipment.

The investors stated that they will withold their support for Boskin's reappointment to the board at the May 30 shareholder meeting in Dallas.

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About the Author

Brad Kenney | Chief Marketing Officer

Brad Kenney is the former Technology Editor of IndustryWeek and now serves as director of the mobile/social platforms practice at R/GA, a global marketing/advertising firm in New York City.

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