Exxon And Chevron Face Renewed Pressure From Shareholders Over Global Warming

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Mega oil companies ExxonMobil and Chevron faced renewed campaigns from shareholders concerned about so-called man-made global warming at a meeting Wednesday.

Exxon is under the most scrutiny, as the oil company maintains it has not misled the public or its shareholders about the supposed existential threat posed by global warming. Anti-Exxon activists and shareholders, such as from mega-public pension California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), have worked overtime attempting to get the massive oil company to change its ways.

CalPERS, for its part, refused to divest its Exxon assets in April even as Democratic legislators pushed and prodded the pension to dump the oil producer. Retirement pension officials said global warming may actually get worse if they sold the Exxon stock, because the pension fund would no longer be able to influence the company from the inside.

Now CalPERS, which holds more than $1 billion of Exxon stock, is making good on its promise to do its level best to force a change within Exxon.

“Companies like Exxon and Chevron, they’re clinging to bygone assumptions,” Anne Simpson, a spokesperson with the massive retirement fund told reporters. “This is their Kodak moment. If they want to still be in business in 30 years, they have to understand the changes that are taking place.”

The “Kodak moment” comment has a double meaning — it may refer, for example, to a moment when Exxon was exposed as charlatans, or the moment when the company refused to move into the world of renewable energy.

The implication is that Exxon needs to change its ways or risk falling out of sorts in a world turning toward green energy.

Exxon is getting kicked, poked and prodded by environmental activists, shareholders, and even the U.S. government, for supposedly misleading people about climate change.

The New York State’s comptroller, for instance, won a battle against Exxon earlier this year when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ruled it must allow shareholders to vote on proposals requiring it to detail how its business will be hurt by government mandated carbon emission reductions.

“We believe it’s incumbent upon us as owners to find out what they’re doing (on climate research) and how that will affect their long-term business plan,” Pete Grannis of New York State’s comptroller’s office, told reporters. “It’s almost impossible to imagine they haven’t been doing some of this already.”

Much of the pressure has come by way of anti-fossil fuel activists on the left, some of whom actually pushed research in peer-reviewed journals blaming companies for global warming.

Environmental activists, Politico reported in early May, met at a conference in La Jolla, California, in 2012 and floated the idea of using “peer-reviewed research” to excoriate companies like Exxon for supposedly contributing to global warming.

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