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Exxon And Activism: The Oil Industry Reckons With Climate Change

View of Exxon Mobil storage tanks of the petrochemical industry in the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP Photo)
View of Exxon Mobil storage tanks of the petrochemical industry in the port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP Photo)

ExxonMobil shareholders have elected two board members backed by activist investors. We discuss the new chapter in the battle to make energy companies face the threat of climate change — and to change themselves.  


Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at the non-profit Ceres, which works with the private sector to address environmental and sustainability issues. (@ALoganCeres)

Charlie Penner, member of Engine No. 1, founded last fall to address climate change in corporate board rooms.

Aeisha Mastagni, portfolio manager at CalSTRS, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System. Member of the board of directors for the Council of Institutional Investors. (@AMastagni)

Phil Verleger, senior fellow at the Niskanen Center. Owner of the consulting firm PKVerleger LLC. (@pkverlegerllc)

From The Reading List

New York Times: “Climate Activists Defeat Exxon in Push for Clean Energy” — “Big Oil was dealt a stunning defeat on Wednesday when shareholders of Exxon Mobil elected at least two board candidates nominated by activist investors who pledged to steer the company toward cleaner energy and away from oil and gas.”

New York Times: “Activists Crashed Exxon’s Board, but Forcing Change Will Be Hard” — “The growing urgency to address climate change and concerns about the financial performance of Exxon Mobil aligned this week to help activist investors place two directors on the company’s board.”

Barrons: “Exxon Mobil Board Will Seat At Least Two Activist Candidates. Why the World’s Oil Companies Can’t Fight Change.” — “It would be considered a triumph of David over Goliath—if Goliath weren’t over the hill and David didn’t seem to have Goliaths of his own in his corner.”

Financial Times: “Climate activists hail breakthrough victories over Exxon and Shell” — “Big Oil has suffered a climate backlash after a court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to aggressively slash carbon emissions and ExxonMobil shareholders backed an activist investor that said the supermajor faced “existential risk” because of its focus on fossil fuels.”

Bloomberg: “Exxon Mobil May Be Big Oil’s Canary In the Coal Mine: Green Insight” — “Last week’s shakeup of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s board of directors is by most accounts a clear signal to corporate America that ambivalence and greenwashing will no longer be enough when it comes to addressing the climate crisis.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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