Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Exxon Mobil to assess climate risk

Heather Long in CNN Money: Exxon Mobil (XOM), America's largest energy company, funded global warming denial groups for years. Now it has agreed to release a report by the end of March that details how climate change could affect its business.

The move comes in response to a shareholder resolution and as the nation marks the 25th anniversary of the Valdez oil spill that released 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound in Alaska. Investors and activists concerned about climate change see this as a major victory that they hope will inspire other companies to follow suit.

The push to get Exxon Mobil to do a climate change assessment has been going on for months. Investors sent letters and tried to engage with Exxon behind the scenes. Arjuna Capital, a sustainable wealth management firm, and As You Sow, a California non-profit, ultimately filed a shareholder resolution demanding a comprehensive "carbon risk report." That resolution has been dropped now that Exxon plans to issue its climate change report.

The argument environmentally conscious investors have made is that shareholders need to know how large a company's fossil fuel reserves are. Regulatory or financial conditions may make it too costly to use all the current reserves, let alone new ones. "Shareholder value is at stake if companies are not prepared for a low-carbon scenario," said Natasha Lamb, director of equity research for Arjuna Capital....

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