May 12, 2020 / 11:01 PM / in 16 days

Investor Legal & General to vote against Exxon chair re-election over climate

* LGIM wants separation of CEO and chair positions

* U.S. oil majors lag European peers in climate policies

* LGIM seeks more disclosure over lobbying practices

* Factbox on Big Oil’s climate pathways:

By Shadia Nasralla

LONDON, May 13 (Reuters) - British investor Legal & General said on Wednesday it would vote against re-electing the chair of Exxon Mobil at a shareholder meeting on May 27, saying the U.S. oil giant had not done enough to tackle climate change.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), which has $1.5 trillion under management and owns about 0.5% of Exxon or shares worth about $1 billion, said the U.S. company had not disclosed its full greenhouse gas emissions and had failed to set company-wide emissions reduction targets.

U.S. majors lag European rivals such as Royal Dutch Shell or BP in making climate-related commitments.

A group of investors representing $19 trillion sees Shell and Eni taking a lead among oil majors on climate issues but says even their targets fall short of goals needed to hit targets in the 2015 Paris climate deal.

“We remain concerned by the Exxon’s lack of strategic ambition around climate change,” said Meryam Omi, LGIM Head of Sustainability and Responsible Investment Strategy.

She said LGIM would vote against re-electing Darren Woods as chair of the company at the shareholders’ meeting on May 27. Woods is also the company’s chief executive.

Exxon did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reflecting its concerns, LGIM divested Exxon shares last year from its Future World Funds, which focuses on environment, social and governance performance.

“We are seeing many of Exxon’s peers step up, and reaffirm their sustainability ambitions even amid the current testing circumstances. The world, and Exxon’s investors, cannot afford the company to fall behind,” Omi said.

LGIM is also opposed companies combining the role of chief executive and chair, a practice followed at Exxon and many other U.S. companies.

“We believe that the separation of combined CEO and board chair roles provides a better balance of authority and responsibility,” Omi said.

“In addition, if companies spend investors’ money on lobbying governments, we expect them to account for how and why they do this,” she added.

BP and Norway’s Equinor have recently withdrawn from trading and lobbying groups over climate-related policies.

Additional reporting by Simon Jessop, Ron Bousso; Editing by Edmund Blair

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