Ceres News — Major Oil Company Investors Concerned About Climate Change

by Duane Nichols on May 27, 2021

Ceres goals include promoting our transition to sustainability

Subject: Investors sent a clear message to the fossil fuel industry

From a Letter by Andrew Logan, Ceres Organization, Boston, MA, May 26, 2021

In a dramatic shake-up signaling a clear and accelerated transition away from a fossil fuel economy, a majority of shareholders of major oil and gas companies have backed groundbreaking climate-related shareholder proposals.

That all came to a head today as a majority of ExxonMobil shareholders voted to replace at least two of the company’s board of directors with Gregory Goff, former CEO of Andeavor oil refining company, and Kaisa Hietala, former executive vice president of renewable products at Neste.

The proposal, filed by Engine No. 1, called for replacing four board directors with a slate of new climate-competent directors. Climate Action 100+, the world’s largest investor engagement initiative, flagged the vote as worthy of shareholder consideration. Investor signatories to the initiative including California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), and New York State Common Retirement Fund all voted for the proposal.

This is an unprecedented action by investors, putting all companies on notice that climate inaction can cost a board member their job.

Shareholders also voted to support other climate-related proposals at Exxon including a proposal asking the company to report how its climate lobbying aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement and a proposal seeking disclosure of the climate change risks the fossil-fuel dependent company faces.

Meanwhile, at Chevron, 61% of shareholders voted for a proposal calling for the company to follow its European peers and set a target for its product, or scope 3, GHG emissions, underscoring the day of reckoning for both oil majors. The center of power at ExxonMobil and Chevron has truly shifted, and oil and gas companies can no longer afford to ignore outside pressure to act on the climate crisis.

The votes come at the end of an historic proxy season that has seen record votes for climate proposals. Three majority votes at the ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 meetings earlier this month equaled, in a single week, what was then the total number of majority votes on climate proposals in the history of the U.S. oil and gas industry.

While there is still so much work to do to reach a net-zero emissions future, these victories are huge and will go a long way in changing business as usual and transforming our economy.

You can read more here. Thank you for your considerations of this topic.

Andrew Logan, Senior Director for Oil and Gas, Ceres Organization

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Mindy Lubber May 27, 2021 at 9:35 pm

ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role

I’m excited to announce that this summer I will be co-convening an online course to help corporate directors better understand their role with regards to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues of the companies they lead. The course, “ESG: Navigating the Board’s Role,” is an online executive education program jointly designed by Ceres and the UC Berkeley School of Law.

As the physical, transitional and systemic issues around climate change become increasingly prominent, it is essential that all corporate directors understand their role in overseeing those risks. I look forward to working with our UC Berkeley partners and with course participants to explore these issues, share best practices, and provide much-needed tools.

Here are some of the topics we’ll address:
>>> Engaging with investors on ESG
>>> Building ESG competency and fluency on the board
>>> Structuring board committees for ESG oversight
>>> Aligning executive compensation with ESG performance
>>> Identifying, assessing, and mitigating ESG risks
>>> Disclosing ESG risks and opportunities

Learn more about the course and enroll here.


I highly encourage you, if you are on a corporate board (or thinking of joining one someday), to enroll in this program—and to share it with directors in your network. It requires just 6-8 hours of active work, on a flexible schedule, and participants who complete the course receive a certificate from Berkeley Law. There will be opportunities for live discussions and virtual networking, alongside recorded lectures, expert interviews, curated resources, and short writing assignments.

Registration has been extended through June 4th, or until seats are filled, for the session that runs from June 9 to September 10.

Warm Regards, @MindyLubber

Mindy S. Lubber, CEO and President, Ceres Organization


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