Thursday, May 31, 2007

Exxonmobil Shareholders Rebuff Concerns On Climate Change

Terra Daily, via Agence France Press: ExxonMobil shareholders on Wednesday voted strongly against several measures that dissident investors proposed to reform the climate policies of world's largest oil company. A majority of ExxonMobil shareholders defeated resolutions, urging the oil giant to set goals to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and to boost its use of renewable energy, at ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting in Dallas, Texas. Senior executives, including ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson, had urged shareholders to reject the proposals.

Without referring explicitly to global warming or climate change, Tillerson said the jury was still out on the "complex issue of climate science…There's much we know and can agree on, and there's much we do not know," ExxonMobil's top executive told shareholders at the meeting, which was carried by Internet.

The votes spelled defeat for a group of large public pension funds holding ExxonMobil shares, including the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the biggest US public pension fund, and the New York City Employees' Retirement System, among others. With more than 100 million ExxonMobil shares, the funds still own less than two percent of the total.

They also failed to persuade shareholders not to re-nominate Michael Boskin as a company director, claiming that he had the power to change ExxonMobil's position on climate change as the head of the company's Public Issues Committee. Another measure had proposed that inform motorists about the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated by gasoline or diesel purchases at fuel stations. That measure was also comfortably defeated by company shareholders.

ExxonMobil's CEO was repeatedly challenged during the three hour meeting about the group's climate stance. US Senators Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, a Democrat and a Republican respectively, have criticized ExxonMobil for its "climate-change denial" and support of "climate-change skeptics." Challenged about ExxonMobil's donations to certain scientists evaluating the world's climate, Tillerson replied: "We don't fund junk science. Why that's been put out there to disparage us is beyond me. It's not true. This is an issue for the next 10, 20 years we're going to continue to learn about," he said.

The oil giant reported record profits of 39.5 billion dollars in 2006.

ExxonMobil says it is moving to improve its energy efficiency while seeking to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by moving to stop gas flaring at its Nigerian operations.

"I'm not going to put a banner up and I'm not going to adopt a slogan, I'm not going there, that's not honest," Tillerson said in response to questions from shareholders about ExxonMobil's position on alternative energy sources.

No comments: