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Shareholders force ExxonMobil and Chevron to act more on the climate.

At Chevron, which also held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, a proposal calling for the company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its products garnered 61% of the vote.

ExxonMobil and Chevron shareholders voted on Wednesday to force U.S. oil giants to fight climate change more aggressively, a sign of growing pressure on black gold producers to address environmental concerns.

In a resounding case launched by a collective of environmental NGOs, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that Shell had to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% by the end of 2030.

At ExxonMobil, at least two of the four candidates for the board of directors proposed by investment firm Engine No.1, which launched a campaign at the end of 2020 calling on the company to bet less on oil and gas and more on renewable energies, were selected.

The final results will be made public later, the group said.

The company’s shareholders also voted in favor of a resolution presented by BNP Paribas, requiring ExxonMobil to file a report explaining whether its lobbying activities align with the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement, signed in 2015.

The group’s general assembly was closely watched. As a sign that the votes were particularly tight, the meeting was suspended for an hour, and the question-and-answer session continued for nearly an additional hour.

At Chevron, which also held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, a proposal calling for the company to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its products garnered 61% of the vote despite opposition from the board of directors.

“These votes reflect a growing awareness of the importance of shareholder voices in accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies,” said Mark van Baal of the Dutch organization Follow This.

“Institutional investors understand that no investment is safe in a global economy ravaged by climate change,” he added.

No turning back
“ExxonMobil can no longer go back,” said Andrew Logan of the American NGO Ceres.

Engine N ° 1 launched a campaign at the end of 2020 calling on the firm to spend less on new oil and gas projects and consider alternative energies more seriously, as have other significant groups such as Shell and Total.

“Whatever the result of the vote, change is coming,” said one of its officials, Charlie Penner, before the announcement of the results.

Engine N ° 1 was supported in its approach by the three most prominent American pension funds CalSTRS, CalPERS, and New York State Common, as well as by the firms ISS and Glass Lewis, which give voting recommendations to shareholders.

Darren Woods, the CEO of the oil giant, recognized the “desire of shareholders to drive change” and assured that the group was “well positioned to respond”.

The management promised at the end of 2020 to step up its efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years and announced in February the creation of a subsidiary dedicated to less polluting energies.

But the group is currently planning to spend only $ 3 billion by 2025, which is low compared to its annual spending on oil and gas exploration. And he especially emphasizes carbon capture and storage techniques, contested by some activists.

Under pressure from public opinion and confident investors, all the major groups in the sector have had to review their climate strategy in recent months.

Shell, therefore, submitted its strategy to reduce its CO2 emissions to a vote last week.

Total will have to convince investors on Friday that it is doing enough for the climate. The French group has proposed to rename itself TotalEnergies to symbolize its diversification into cleaner energies.

In 2013, ExxonMobil was still the most expensive private group on the stock market in the world. But its star has since faded, and it was taken out in the summer of 2020 from the flagship Dow Jones index. Hit hard by the drop in energy demand at the height of the pandemic. It lost $ 22 billion in 2020.

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