Sustainable Business

Exxon investors to prod revamped board on net zero carbon study

3 minute read

A logo of the Exxon Mobil Corp is seen at the Rio Oil and Gas Expo and Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/File Photo

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HOUSTON, June 22 (Reuters) - Investors calling for Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) to study the impact of getting its oil and gas business to net-zero emissions by 2050 will push for talks later this year with what they hope is a more sympathetic board.

Exxon shareholders voted 49.4% in favor of the study, a regulatory filing showed on Monday. Companies typically respond to proposals that get majority support from investors.

"We were validated," said John Geissinger, chief investment officer at Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), which wants Exxon to quantify the financial impact of a net-zero strategy. "A significant number of shareholders believe that assessing the risks to the company under different climate scenarios is critically important."

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Geissinger expects to hold talks with Exxon this fall on the proposal, and hopes to collaborate on the outlines of the report.

The CBIS proposal won support of big investors BlackRock and State Street Global Advisors, which combined hold more than 12% of Exxon shares.

"We want to have some transparency to the risks that the company faces," Geissinger said. The requested report would examine the impact on Exxon of a world moving to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Exxon recommended shareholders vote against the proposal, citing the range of scenarios within its planning. But a quarter of its board lost their seats to nominees of a hedge fund prodding Exxon to cut spending on fossil fuels and address a world moving to lower-carbon fuels.

"We value the input and feedback we receive from our investors, and we will continue to engage with our shareholders as we move forward," Exxon spokesman Casey Norton said.

Exxon has pledged to limit the pace of growth of carbon emissions that contribute to climate change, but has not agreed to net zero emissions by 2050 as rivals BP Plc (BP.L), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and TotalEnergies (TOTF.PA) have done.

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Reporting by Jennifer Hiller in Houston; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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