Church Commissioners’ Edward Mason’s remarks to ExxonMobil AGM as climate proposal gets 38% backing

Investors with $10trn in assets declared support for climate resolution at oil giant

Preliminary voting figures announced at Exxon Mobil’s AGM yesterday showed that an unprecedented 38.2% of shareholders supported the resolution filed by the Church Commissioners for England and New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli calling on the oil giant to report on how its business model will be affected by global efforts to limit the average rise in temperatures to below 2-degrees Celsius.

Here we publish remarks made at the AGM by Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners:

We are long-term shareholders interested in the sustainable success of the companies in which we invest, and it is a pleasure to be here in Dallas for Exxon’s annual meeting.
The Church Commissioners are lead co-filers of shareholder proposal number 12 which was filed by New York State Common Retirement Fund, whom I am also representing.
The resolution asks Exxon to publish annually an analysis of how its portfolio stress tests against a scenario in which the world restricts warming to 2 degrees.
This is a reasonable request.
Chairman as you have acknowledged this morning, climate change is real. The desire of global governments to restrict warming to below 2 degrees, affirmed in the Paris Agreement, is real. The financial risks and opportunities for companies associated with the transition to a low carbon economy are real.

These risks have been recognised by the global Financial Stability Board chaired by the Governor of the Bank of England which has created a task force on climate-related financial disclosure.

Exxon’s peers have agreed to provide regular portfolio resilience reporting, including BP, Shell and Total. At BP and Shell’s annual meetings last year, the reporting request was endorsed by 98% of shareholders at both companies.

Because of Exxon’s decision to diverge from its peers and oppose the request in this resolution, management will today experience a major shareholder revolt.Chairman, the board is losing the confidence of its investors on climate change.

In the run up to this annual meeting, investors with over $10 trillion of assets affirmed their support for this shareholder proposal.

“The board is losing the confidence of its investors on climate change”

Many of the world’s largest asset managers are voting against management today: Aegon, Amundi, Aviva Investors, AXA Investment Managers, BMO Global Asset Management, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, HSBC Global Asset Management, Legal and General Investment Management, Natixis Asset Management, Robeco and Schroders Investment Management.
The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, the Norwegian Government Pension fund, pension schemes from around the world from the public and private sector alike, and church investors like us from three continents, are all voting against management.
Chairman and members of the Board, Exxon can do better. Following today’s vote, the investors backing this proposal look forward to starting afresh and having a responsive and productive engagement with the company on climate related disclosures.Edward Mason spoke on a Responsible Investor webinar on this issue earlier this month: