When Wall Street, Big Business and Rockefeller-owned Exxon Back Climate Change Pact You Know It's a Big Slush Fund for the Psychopaths That Rule the WorldExxon vote shows Wall Street diverging from Trump on climate change
May 31, 2017
(Reuters) - Major investors put U.S. industry on notice on Wednesday that climate change matters, even as reports emerged that President Donald Trump plans to withdraw the United States from an international pact to fight global warming.
A number of large institutional fund firms including BlackRock Inc, the world's largest asset manager, supported a shareholder resolution calling on Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) to share more information about how new technologies and climate change regulations could impact the business of the world's largest publicly traded oil company. The proposal won the support of 62.3 percent of votes cast.
The victory, on such a wide margin, was hailed by climate activists as a turning point in their decades-long campaign to get oil and gas companies to communicate how they would adapt to a low-carbon economy.
With major investors now seeing climate change as a major risk, activists said U.S. corporations will have to be more transparent about the impact of a warming planet even if the United States withdraws from the 2015 Paris climate accord, as Trump promised during his presidential campaign.
"Economic forces are outrunning any other considerations," said Anne Simpson, investment director for sustainability at the California Public Employees' Retirement System, one of the sponsors of the resolution.
She credited big investors in Exxon for the change, since at least some of them switched their votes after last year when a similar measure won just 38 percent support.
"We have seen a sea change in their viewpoint," she said. Many top investors now consider their votes on shareholder proposals "on merit, rather than considering it a test of loyalty to management," she said.
Among Exxon’s top investors, Vanguard Group Inc and BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) opposed last year's call for climate change reporting. A spokeswoman for Vanguard, which has about 7 percent of Exxon's shares, declined to comment on its voting this year.
A person familiar with the matter said funds run by BlackRock, which holds about 6 percent of Exxon shares, voted in favor of the climate resolution.
Filings showing their exact votes are not due for months. But both fund firms and others have taken steps since last year to make it easier to support climate resolutions.
A spokesman for Exxon's ninth-largest investor Northern Trust Corp (NTRS.O), Doug Holt, said it voted in favor of the proposal, citing its own guidelines updated in 2016.
THE VOTE FROM THE STREET
The investment firms' approach reflects a new interest in climate matters among their own investors, who have stuffed money into so-called "green" mutual funds and other vehicles that use environmental factors in their stockpicking.
Wall Street's priorities have shifted the terms of debate at a number of other energy and utility companies. A majority of shareholders voting at Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N) and PPL Corp (PPL.N) called for similar reports on the risks of climate change. Votes on two more of the measures are scheduled for June 7 at Devon Energy Corp (DVN.N) and at Hess Corp (HES.N).
Michael Crosby, involved in corporate outreach for the Midwest Capuchin Franciscans, a religious order, said Wednesday's vote was a rejection of Exxon's arguments it already provides enough detail on its outlook.
"The Street is saying, you have to give better evidence," Crosby said.
After the measure passed, Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods said its board would reconsider its climate communications.
The activists now face the task of maintaining alliances with leaders like Woods who opposed their resolutions but who in some cases support the 195-nation Paris agreement. Exxon said in a March 22 letter to the White House that the Paris deal is "an effective framework for addressing the risks of climate change."
Trump had at least one ally at Exxon's meeting in Dallas, Steven Milloy of Potomac, Maryland, who urged other investors to support his resolution that would make it harder to file proposals like the one on climate change.
Milloy said management should show less concerns for climate issues, which he called misplaced, and cited Trump as a model. "For the first time we have a president who actively opposes climate hysteria," Milloy said.
According to Exxon, Milloy's proposal received support from 1.6 percent of votes cast.
Exxon climate vote puts sector on notice
June 2, 2017
(Reuters) - Exxon Mobil shareholders have finally won a long-sought climate-change victory. Over 60 percent of them backed a move that forces the $340 billion oil giant to ramp up global-warming disclosure, up from under 40 percent in a similar attempt last year. Exxon already embraces the debate more than most. But shareholders want the company to be more forthcoming. Holdout industry peers will have to follow or risk investor ire.
Chief Executive Darren Woods, who took the helm at the beginning of the year, wrote in his first blog post about the importance of managing the risks of climate change. On several occasions Woods has talked about how Exxon does business in an environment in which, under the 2015 Paris accord, nearly 200 countries including China and India have agreed to reduce their carbon emissions.
At the company’s annual meeting in Dallas on Wednesday, Woods reiterated Exxon's commitment to adhere to the guidelines of the agreement even if President Donald Trump decides to withdraw the United States from the deal. Yet Exxon’s energy outlook remains fairly rosy, showing rising oil demand through 2040. Oil and gas development, Woods said, will still need $11 trillion of investment even under the constraints agreed in Paris.
Some shareholders have for several years found this discussion unsatisfactory. They have asked Exxon to analyze in more depth the potential impact on the company’s business of limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, and to attempt to assess what might happen beyond 2040. And they have demanded access to independent directors to discuss their concerns. The difference this year is that more of them, potentially including big institutions like BlackRock, now want more information. Following Wednesday's vote, the company has to oblige.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Woods was vague on Exxon's plans to comply. It's not the first time a U.S. company has gotten such a directive from shareholders – it happened at Occidental Petroleum earlier this month, for example – and greater disclosure is more common at European energy groups. Still, Exxon is the world's largest publicly traded oil and gas company and it sets the standard. Others in the sector should consider themselves on notice.
Here's how CEOs reacted to Trump's exit from Paris climate agreement
June 1, 2017
(Yahoo) - President Trump withdrew from the Paris agreement on Thursday, citing concerns that the agreement was bad for the economy and job creation. Trump’s position was likely about coal and campaign promises. Trump said he would potentially renegotiate the—voluntary—agreement in the future. However, the business community did not particularly welcome the announcement.
Elon Musk, who had threatened to leave the president’s advisory council, confirmed he would in a disapproving tweet.
GM (GM) said CEO Mary Barra would remain on the council, according to a Reuters reporter.
Blackstone (BX) CEO Stephen Schwarzman will also remain.
Council member Ginny Rometty of IBM (IBM) does not tweet, but IBM told the Hill that she would remain in the advisory council: “We believe we can make a constructive contribution by having a direct dialogue with the Administration – as we do with governments around the world.”
The news was enough to get Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein to finally use the Twitter account he created in 2011. His first tweet:
The CEO of GE (GE), Jeff Immelt, tweeted his disappointment. (He is not on the council, but former GE CEO Jack Welch is. Welch has not issued any statements.)
Google (GOOG, GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted disappointment and said Google will work for a “cleaner, more prosperous future for all.”
Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com (CRM), tweeted that he was “deeply disappointed.”
Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella tweeted, “We believe climate change is an urgent issue that demands global action. We remain committed to doing our part.”
Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey filled his twitter timeline with pro-Paris agreement retweets.
At this point, some CEOs might not see utility in responding, but up until Thursday’s announcement, many CEOs had already urged Trump to remain. A large number of prominent CEOs signed a letter to the president. As the Harvard Business Review noted, “this is not a tree-hugger group.”
Inge Thulin, 3M Company
James K. Kamsickas, Dana Incorporated
Michael B. Polk, Newell Brands, Inc.
Oliver Bäte, Allianz SE ()
Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company
Geisha Williams, Pacific Gas & Electric
Brian Moynihan, Bank of America Corp.
Edward Breen, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company
David Taylor, Procter & Gamble Company
Zhang Yue, BROAD Group
Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric
Feike Sijbesma, Royal DSM
Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company
Lloyd C. Blankfein, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc
Marc Benioff, Salesforce
David W. MacLennan, Cargill Inc.
William Brown, Harris Corporation
Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Solvay
Michael L. Corbat, Citigroup, Inc.
Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson
Elon Musk, Tesla
James Quincey, The Coca Cola Company
Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase
Paul Polman, Unilever
Wendell Weeks, Corning Incorporated
François-Henri Pinault, Kering
Richard Branson, Virgin
Tom Linebarger, Cummins Inc.
James Gorman, Morgan Stanley
Robert A. Iger, The Walt Disney Group
It’s even longer. On CNBC, HP (HPE) CEO Meg Whitman urged Trump to stay.
“[P]lease do not withdraw from the Paris climate accord; this is not in the best interest of Americans,” Whitman said on “Squawk on the Street.”
ExxonMobil (XOM) CEO Darren Woods sent Trump a letter, and Woods’s predecessor and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported to have been urging Trump to remain in the agreement.
Multinational mining company (iron, coal, copper, petroleum, and more) company BHP Billiton’s (BLL) CEO Andrew Mackenzie told an Australian TV station that he personally asked Trump to stay in the agreement.
Last week, Intel (INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich tweeted that Intel had been advocating for staying in the Paris accord.