Shareholders at four U.S. oil companies to vote on climate proposals

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HOUSTON, March 14 (Reuters) - Shareholders at four U.S. oil companies will vote in the coming quarter on proposals for the firms to meet emissions targets set out in Paris in 2015, said climate activist group Follow This.

The votes will test shareholder willingness to impose new air pollution restrictions amid high energy prices and new energy security fears following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We were positively surprised," said Follow This founder Mark van Baal. "This shows that most oil majors accept the winds of change at the SEC."

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last fall raised the hurdle for companies seeking to exclude environment and social proposals from facing shareholders. read more

Follow This is an activist group of 8,000 shareholders who hold stakes in oil companies in Europe and the United States.

While Occidental Petroleum has sought to bar the group's proposal saying the claims have already been "substantially implemented", Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), Chevron Corp (CVX.N), ConocoPhillips (COP.N) and Phillips 66 (PSX.N) each have not blocked the group's petition, said van Baal.

Occidental and Phillips 66 declined to comment. Exxon said it considers feedback and input from shareholders. Chevron said it only asks to exclude any proposal that do not comply with SEC shareholder petition rules. Conoco did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow This previously put similar proposals calling for the oil firms to "substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions." Those petitions last year were supported by 61% of voting shareholders at Chevron, 58% at Conoco and 80% at Phillips 66, according to company filings.

Follow This now proposes that companies set goals consistent with the 2015 Paris accord, an agreement to reduce emissions in half by 2030.

Oil prices this month have hit 14-year highs above $130 a barrel as buyers steered clear of Russian products following its invasion of Ukraine. That jump should accelerate investments in renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, he said.

"Maybe in the very short term they have to replace Russia supply with oil from other countries. But in the long term we don't need more oil and gas," Van Baal said.

"There is no time for a slow transition anymore."

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Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Tom Hogue

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