ExxonMobil Set to Square Off Against Activist Investors

Shareholder meeting at Chevron also promises to be contentious over emissions reduction plans
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2023 7:34 AM CDT
ExxonMobil Set to Square Off Against Activist Investors
This April 25, 2017, file photo shows an Exxon service station sign in Nashville, Tennessee.   (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

The fly on the wall at Wednesday's ExxonMobil shareholder meeting is likely to get quite an earful, notably on the topic of climate change. Quartz reports that the oil giant is expecting a battle with some of its more activist-leaning investors, including on multiple proposals regarding carbon emissions that Exxon is already pushing back on. One vote set to take place concerns a motion by Dutch climate activist group Follow This, which wants Exxon to sync its emissions reduction plan with the Paris climate agreement in trying to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In a proxy statement, Exxon's board implored shareholders to vote "no" on the proposal, claiming that the target numbers could lead to "significant unintended consequences for society."

The company showed similar resistance in its plea to shareholders over a second proposal regarding its reporting on carbon emissions, noting that a request to include asset sales in its reporting isn't how the rest of the oil and gas industry does it. Exxon isn't the only oil giant on the hot seat. Chevron is expected to face similar turmoil at its own Wednesday shareholder meeting, and Shell already has: Quartz describes a "tumultuous" general meeting last week that included peeved climate-change activists, though their protests didn't stop the company's shareholders from voting to keep Shell's current, less ambitious climate strategy in place. A Dutch court ruled after the meeting that Shell had to adhere to a more aggressive decarbonization effort, a decision that Shell is appealing.

CNN notes that the world's largest investor in the stock market, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, is putting the pressure on Exxon and Chevron by siding with Follow This. The activist investor is also turning the screws on Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies to put in place more stringent decarbonization goals. Follow This founder Mark van Baal says the Norwegian fund has a "huge responsibility" heading into Wednesday's meetings—especially because it didn't side with activist investors in the other recent shareholder meetings. "Basically, they are saying to Shell, BP, and Total: You don't have to reduce your emissions this decade," van Baal notes. Norway's $1.4 trillion oil fund, which owns about 1.5%, on average, of every company globally, has been called hypocritical for making demands of oil firms while Norway "earns record sums from oil and gas," per the Financial Times. (More ExxonMobil stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.