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Shareholders win fight to force Exxon to report on climate

After several attempts, Exxon’s shareholders have finally pushed through a resolution that encourages the company to report rigorously on the risks climate change poses to its business and forecasts.

Votes in favour came out at 38% last year; this year, an unprecedented 63% of shareholders supported it.

ClientEarth corporate lawyer Alice Garton said: “This phenomenal result is yet more proof of increasing investor expectations for climate risk disclosures. Investors are now on board with the low-carbon transition – and Exxon needs to repair its reputation. The company needs to catch up with investor expectations or fall out of favour with the investor community and become marginalised in investment portfolios.”

Timely commitments on climate

The result coincided with news that Trump was expected pull out of the Paris Agreement. Exxon has been vocal in its support for the historic climate deal, yet went all out this week to discourage shareholders from backing a climate resolution, prompting environmental lawyers to question if Exxon is as eager to deliver on climate promises as it seems.

Alice explained: “Exxon’s reputation has had a rough ride over the last years, with lawsuits and investigations emerging over various climate-related matters. But management was resistant to this resolution – even lobbying shareholders to reject it. All eyes will now be on how Exxon responds. Any step out of line on climate risk reporting could open the company up to even more damaging climate litigation.”

Alice Garton is an Australian-qualified lawyer.

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