One of the world’s largest oil companies, Exxon Mobil, has passed a motion for the company to report on how the business is being affected by climate change. The “historic” vote pitted board members against shareholders, who eventually voted 62.3 percent in favor of the resolution, despite opposition from the company itself.
This decision means the company will now have to report on how global measures to keep the warming of the planet below 2°C (3.6°F) will impact its business ventures. Up until now, ExxonMobil management had been resisting this, going so far as to apparently cover up all knowledge of climate change from shareholders for decades, while at the same time funding climate-denying organizations.
This is actually the second time the vote has been held in the last two years. The last attempt to pass the motion garnered only 38 percent of the votes from shareholders, which at the time was the highest vote. This shows just how far things have come since then, with a massive swing of the majority from one side to the other. The motion was suggested by investors the Church of England and New York State Comptroller Thomas P DiNapoli.
“This is a historic vote – despite strong opposition from the Board, the majority of Exxon's shareholders have sent an unequivocal signal to the company that it must do much more to disclose the impact on its business of measures to combat climate change,” says Edward Mason, head of responsible investment for the Church Commissioners. “We are grateful to all of the investors who supported the proposal, and we call on the company to begin urgent engagement with shareholders on how to bring its disclosures in line with those of its peers.”
As the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, coupled with the fact that they are accused of covering up their knowledge of climate change from their shareholders for decades, Exxon Mobil is often seen as the embodiment of the resistance to climate action. This makes the fact that the shareholders have voted, despite opposition from the board, to include the risks of climate change in all operations a significant move.
The announcement from Exxon comes on the eve of President Trump's declaration of whether or not he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, with rumors suggesting that he will indeed exit it. When even oil companies are accepting that climate change is happening and that something needs to be done to mitigate it, you know something is wrong when the President of the US is still unsure.