Why Exxon’s historic vote is putting climate change firmly on the map
In 1997, Exxon’s chairman and CEO, Lee Raymond, disparaged potential regulations on carbon emissions at the World Petroleum Council in Beijing. “Many people — politicians and the public alike — believe that global warming is a rock-solid certainty,” Raymond said. “But it’s not.”
Then in 2007, the company publicly acknowledged that climate change was occurring and that fossil fuels played a key part.
But fast forward another ten years to 31 May 2017, the world’s biggest oil company was compelled by shareholders to be more open about the impact of climate change on its business in what is being called an “historic” vote. Some 62% of shareholders voted for the resolution and against Exxon’s management at the company’s annual meeting in Texas. The vote to report more clearly on how climate change impacts Exxon’s business comes as investors become increasingly demanding for companies to disclose the likely impact of global warming.
And now, thirty years later, Exxon has now significantly helped to put climate change at the forefront of investors’ and stakeholder engagement. Consequently, smaller oil companies may well follow suit: Exxon is showing that climate change matters to investors and it needs attention. Finally, let’s remember that the next key step that they will also all need to ensue is to publish their Transition plans to a low carbon economy.
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