22 May 2006

Climate Change: Investors Call for Meeting with ExxonMobil Board

In a joint letter to ExxonMobil executives, seventeen top U.S. pension fund and other institutional investors representing $658 billion in assets called for a meeting with independent members of the ExxonMobil board of directors. They are increasingly concerned about the future of the company in which they are heavily invested, claiming that ExxonMobil has not recognized their exposure to climate change impacts. They are troubled by the company's failure to "to manage the transformation of ExxonMobil from a 20th Century oil company to a company that will meet the world's energy demands within carbon constraints in the a 21st Century."

Pension fund trustees from seven states, New York City, and eight other major institutional investors with over 110 million ExxonMobil shares worth an estimated $6.75 billion made the request for the meeting this week. All are members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, (INCR) "a network of institutional investors and financial institutions dedicated to promoting better understanding of the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change" (from INCR web site).

The group includes treasurers from six states (Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, Vermont), the California State Controller, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the New York State Comptroller, New York City Comptroller, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, Walden Asset Management, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Fund.

A press release from the INCR quoted California State Treasurer Phil Angelides, also a trustee of CalPERS and CalSTRS, who said, "Shareholders deserve to know if the companies they own are going down the prudent path -- adopting environmental practices that will enable them to survive and thrive in a world of increasing environmental concern and regulation - or whether they are following a path that will damage both our environment and our bottom line."

"The growing risks of climate change and the skyrocketing gas prices consumers are facing highlight the need for increased investment in alternative energy sources," according to Mr. Angelides. "Exxon Mobil must come clean with shareholders about the company's risks and demonstrate the company is ready to face the environmental challenges of the future."

The Investor Network on Climate Risk also called on the world's largest automakers to address their role in global climate change and the effects it could have on their profits.

Thus far, no response has been released by ExxonMobil. However, in its 2005 Corporate Citizenship Report, one finds the following link to the company's Carbon Disclosure Project, which reads
ExxonMobil recognises that the potential impacts of greenhouse gas emissions on society and ecosystems may prove to be significant, although scientific evidence remains inconclusive. To address these risks we are taking actions to reduce energy use and emissions in our own operations as well as to help customers use our products more efficiently. Our actions include investments and strategic planning that address emissions, as well as industry-leading research on technologies with the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in the future. ExxonMobil has also been a leader in supporting scientific research to address the well-known scientific uncertainties and gaps that limit understanding of climate change today. Ongoing support for scientific research is critical to improve society's ability to assess climate risks and provide essential input to advise public policy.

In addition, the report claims "It is impossible today to foresee the long-term implications of climate change for any business. Only a few nations, mostly in Europe, have implemented regulatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions. Estimates for allowance prices under carbon trading regimes remain highly speculative and dependent upon further developments, particularly regarding future regulations. ExxonMobil will respond to these uncertainties and developments using our traditional approach: disciplined planning and investment, financial strength, efficient and reliable operations, and research and development."

The letter from the Investor Network on Climate Risk takes ExxonMobil to task for not "making any significant investment in new energy producing technologies" and for a lack of "strategic analysis of how these limits [to CO2 emissions] could impact the market for selling ExxonMobil's major product -- oil."

Read the release from the Investor Network on Climate Risk

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