Those investors want the companies whose stock they own to map out and share their plan for dealing with a potential world in which oil is not the big money maker it is today. It’s not just activists who want to know the plan. Traditional investors are concerned as well.
Exxon shareholders came to vote on 4 proposals dealing with climate change. Chevron stockholders faced 5. The various proposals ask the companies to make moves such as cutting back on opening up new oil sources and returning the savings to investors.
Although Chevron investors overwhelmingly rejected similar proposals last year, this would be the first time Exxon shareholders would consider pressuring the company to take climate change related action.
The 2% Solution
The resolutions being voted on by stockholders of both companies mainly revolved around the results of the climate change summit in Paris last year in which nearly 200 countries pledged to limit the rise in average global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Activists and other resolution sponsoring shareholders wanted both Exxon and Chevron to report how their companies would be affected if that goal was achieved. Similar resolutions have been passed by shareholders at Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC (NYSE:BPD).
From the companies' perspective, any indication by major oil companies that global warming might weaken them could hurt their bottom line – and importantly for investors - stock prices. Limiting exploration would, in the eyes of company officials, reduce potential profits and cause great damage.
Activists and others suggest it is time for big oil to look for alternative sources of energy and stop exploiting remaining oil reserves in order to get ahead of the curve when it comes to planning for the future.
When the votes were tallied, Exxon shareholders had rejected all 4 of the proposals before them. That included one mandating a limit to global warming, another designed to put a climate expert on the board of directors and still another that would report on the company’s efforts related to hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Chevron shareholders followed suit, narrowly voting down the proposals before them Tue. as well.
Nonetheless, Exxon and Chevron activists saw reason for hope. That was due to a 38% support margin at Exxon and a 41% positive margin at Chevron - the highest margin in favor of global warming initiatives in either company’s history.
Beth Richtman, investment manager at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which manages about $290 billion told The Wall Street Journal, “There’s a groundswell of share owners who are going to keep pushing this forward. We need to see them rise to the realm of best practices in terms of climate risk reporting, and we’re not there yet.”
Exxon shares closed up $0.59 cents Tue. at $90.26. Chevron was up $1.58 at the final bell, closing at $101.77.