Exxon Quietly Bows to Shareholder Demands for Climate Risk Disclosure
Under pressure from investors and global regulators, Exxon Mobil—the world’s biggest investor-owned oil company, and one of its most recalcitrant on climate issues—has agreed to disclose the risks it faces from policies to address climate change by constraining the burning of fossil fuels.
Almost exactly a year ago, the international Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, set up by central banks, recommended that G20 countries require companies to disclose climate-related risks to their core business operations in their public financial filings. Exxon, which for decades concealed what its own experts knew about the climate-disrupting effects of oil and gas combustion, had resisted that call until now.
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However, InsideClimate News reports that “in a one-paragraph filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission,” this week, “the oil giant said it would stop resisting motions filed by dissident shareholders seeking risk disclosure.”
The company’s decision followed a vote earlier this year in which 62% of its shareholders called on its management to report climate risk annually, along with other financial accounting.
More specifically, ICN adds, “Exxon dropped its opposition to a proposal by New York’s state pension fund [that] asks Exxon to analyze how the Paris goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2.0ºC compared to pre-industrial levels will affect its business, and to assess the financial risks associated with that 2.0° scenario.”
The company’s short note to the SEC said, without detail, that it “will seek to issue these disclosures in the near future”.
New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, who oversees its pension fund, declared that “Exxon’s decision demonstrates that investors have the power to hold corporations accountable and to compel them to address our very real climate-related concerns.”
But the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Kathy Mulvey cautioned that “the company is nowhere close to retooling its business model to meet the Paris climate agreement goals it purportedly supports.”