Science Group Lauds SEC Rulings that Fossil Fuel Companies Must Allow Climate Change Votes

Published Mar 25, 2016

WASHINGTON (March 24, 2016)—The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled that Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corporation must include climate change resolutions on their annual shareholder proxies. The resolutions before ExxonMobil were put forward by the New York state Comptroller’s Office and the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ. One calls on ExxonMobil to outline how climate change or legislation to address it could affect the company’s profitability. The other asks the company to acknowledge the moral imperative to limit global average temperature increases to well below 2°C – the goal laid out in the international climate agreement struck in Paris last December. Meanwhile, another resolution, submitted to Chevron by Wespath and Hermes, requests that the company publish an annual assessment of how climate policies may affect its business in light of the Paris agreement.

Below is a statement by Kathy Mulvey, Climate Accountability Campaign Manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The SEC ruling shows that deliberations about climate change risk should very much be on the table, despite attempts by ExxonMobil and Chevron to silence these discussions. ExxonMobil insists that it accepts cutting-edge climate science, but then claimed the comptroller’s proposal was vague and that the company already provides enough carbon-related information to shareholders. You cannot say you support the science and that you are taking action, and then say the science is vague and do nothing. Until ExxonMobil and Chevron align their business models with a carbon-constrained world, they are effectively sticking their heads in the sand and delaying action.

“This ruling comes as fossil fuel companies face increasing pressure, including an investigation by the New York state attorney general into whether ExxonMobil misled shareholders and the public about the risks of climate change and a second Rockefeller family fund divesting from Exxon. The rulings also highlight the dangers of the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long campaign to intentionally confuse the public, block action on climate change and avoid responsibility for the harms caused by its product.”