Exxon shareholders vote for climate risk disclosures

Exxon shareholders vote for climate risk disclosures
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Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp. voted Wednesday to ask the company to make certain disclosures about how climate change could harm its business.

The proposal — which had previously been brought up by activist shareholders but failed — passed with about 62 percent of the vote at the company’s annual meeting, the Dallas Morning News reports. The shareholders’ vote is not binding.

Under the specific resolution passed Wednesday, the country’s largest oil company is being asked to annually estimate how the goals set out in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement are affecting its business worldwide.

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The vote came the same day as multiple reports that President Trump is planning to pull the United States out of the Paris accord. Exxon Mobil supports the accord, and CEO Darren Woods reiterated the company’s support at the Wednesday shareholder meeting.

The climate resolution was proposed by the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and Exxon Mobil’s management urged shareholders to vote against it. 

Asset managers Vanguard Group and BlackRock Inc., the top two Exxon Mobil shareholders, ended up supporting the measure, the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who acts as trustee of the retirement fund, applauded the vote.

“This is an unprecedented victory for investors in the fight to ensure a smooth transition to a low carbon economy,” he said in a statement.

“Climate change is one of the greatest long-term risks we face in our portfolio and has direct impact on the core business of ExxonMobil. The burden is now on ExxonMobil to respond swiftly and demonstrate that it takes shareholder concerns about climate risk seriously.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) is investigating Exxon Mobil over allegations that it lied to shareholders and the public about what it knew decades ago about climate change, including what it knew about how global warming would impact its bottom line.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) is conducting her own probe along similar lines.