Exxon holders reject separate CEO-chairman, climate resolutions

By Jennifer Hiller DALLAS (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp shareholders on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have split the chief executive officer and board chairman roles at the largest publicly traded oil producer. Some shareholders had rallied behind that proposal as a protest after Exxon got the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strike a climate change measure from its ballot.

Reuters May 30, 2019 01:06:10 IST
Exxon holders reject separate CEO-chairman, climate resolutions

Exxon holders reject separate CEOchairman climate resolutions

By Jennifer Hiller

DALLAS (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp shareholders on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have split the chief executive officer and board chairman roles at the largest publicly traded oil producer.

Some shareholders had rallied behind that proposal as a protest after Exxon got the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to strike a climate change measure from its ballot. But the proposal to create an independent chairman received 41% of the vote at the company's annual meeting.

Shareholders also defeated measures calling for a special board committee on climate change and for a report on the risks of climate change to Exxon's U.S. Gulf Coast chemical plants.

At Chevron Corp's annual meeting on Wednesday, a proposal to create an independent chairman received just 26% of votes, and only 8% of votes favoured a board committee on climate change.

New York state's pension fund and the Church Commissioners for England, the endowment fund of the Church of England, had backed the independent chairman's proposal at Exxon after their resolution seeking emissions goals was struck from the ballot.

Exxon has been in "open conflict about climate strategy and disclosure" with its investors, said Edward Mason, who represented the Church of England and presented two climate resolutions that failed to pass.

Shareholders in recent years have pressed Exxon to define a path toward meeting the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit global warming, but the company has not committed to any targets.

"Engagement on climate is important, but working on solutions through fundamental research and development for new technologies is also important," said Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods. He pointed to a $100 million commitment to partner with the U.S. Department of Energy's national labs to research and bring lower-emission technologies to commercial scale.

Exxon has multi-billion dollar expansion programs to find and produce new reserves of oil and natural gas, as well as to expand its refining and chemical footprint. It has projected shale production of 1 million barrels per day in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field, as early as 2024.

The independent board chair proposal won a record level of support, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a statement. "Exxon would ignore this level of support for an independent board chair at its own risk,” he added.

CEO Woods said the company would continue to engage with shareholders as part of a "a years-long process."

More than 50 people organised by environmental group 350 Dallas held signs and chanted outside the hotel entrance to protest Exxon's climate policies.

"The climate crisis is real and they have contributed to it," said Olinka Green, 50, of Dallas, who held a sign that said, "There is no Planet B."

Shares of the Dow Jones Industrial Average component were down less than 1% on Wednesday.

Exxon is pushing ahead in China despite the trade war between the two countries, and Woods said its plans have not been interrupted.

Last year it was approved for an about $9 billion liquefied natural gas terminal and a massive chemicals project in China, the second foreign firm after Germany’s BASF to gain approval to operate such a plant without a local sponsor.

"That is a lifelong investment, a 50- to 100-year timeline investment," Woods said. "While we're sensitive to what we're seeing in the current environment and the implications, and we're making sure that we understand how issues can play themselves out, we're also trying to put that in the context of this long-term time horizon we're trying to manage."

(Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Nick Zieminski and David Gregorio)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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