Exxon shareholders back board, vote against faster carbon emission cuts

Signage is seen at an Exxon gas station in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S., November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

HOUSTON, May 25 (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) shareholders on Wednesday backed the energy company's board and its energy transition strategy, voting against most proposals to accelerate cuts of carbon emission.

Major oil producers this year flipped the script and won over investors to their climate-change strategies as worries over energy security and fuel prices overshadowed environmental resolutions. At Exxon, results marked a major shift from a year-ago when activist investors secured three seats on its board.

Shareholders voted down a resolution from Dutch activist group Follow This that sought to set targets for reducing its customers' emissions from burning its fuels, called scope 3.

Only 28% of votes that were cast backed the proposal. If approved, it would have reduced sales of fossil fuels, and made the company set and publish medium- and long-term targets for cutting overall greenhouse gas emissions.

Chief Executive Darren Woods said the company is expanding investments in fossil fuel production to minimize a global energy shortage and the rising prices for consumers.

"We don't believe scope 3 targets are an effective way to manage total society emissions," Woods said. "Access to reliable energy is foundational to our daily lives."

A report on low-carbon business planning collected 10.5% of ballots cast. Investors also gave thumbs down to a providing a report on plastic production, with more than 37% in favor.

While Exxon's operational strategy got investor backing, shareholders did endorse a call to provide better climate data analysis. It seeks an audited report assessing the impact that the transition to net zero emissions would have on its finances.

“Today’s vote is a major win for both investors and the planet, and a step change in ensuring company accounts match climate rhetoric," Charlie Kronick, a senior programme adviser at Greenpeace UK, said.

Exxon shareholders also rejected calls to replace directors by re-elected its board, and supported the company’s executive compensation program.

Reporting by Sabrina Valle Editing by Chris Reese and David Gregorio

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.