ExxonMobil Faces Major Global Warming Proxy Push From Christian Brothers Investment Services In Season's Most Closely Watched Proxy Vote
Energy Giant Faces Measure That Cites Greenwashing of Global Warming Problem.
NEW YORK, N.Y. AND IRVING, TX.///May 11, 2004//ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), the most scrutinized corporation in terms of global warming proxy resolutions, faces on May 26, 2004 another major climate-change shareholder vote arising from a resolution filed by Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) and other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).
Since it is the only one of three such global warming resolutions to survive ExxonMobil challenges at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CBIS resolution is likely to draw substantial interest from institutional investors and others. In March 2004, ExxonMobil unsuccessfully sought to kill the resolution at the SEC. The Commission found in favor of CBIS and cleared the way for the resolution to be printed on the ExxonMobil proxy ballot.
"While the company has been willing to meet with shareholders over the past year, it has not made any meaningful changes in its approach to the issue of global warming," said John Wilson, director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS. "The company continues to devote substantial resources to lobbying and public relations efforts designed to cast doubt on the consensus science that human activities are partly to blame for the warming of the Earth. The company appears to be asking the public to substitute its opinion for the agreed-upon judgment of the world's most respected scientific organizations. Yet, the company claims that it cannot defend this contrarian view. At CBIS, we hope that with the help of other investor owners, we can prompt ExxonMobil to share this information with us."
The resolution urges ExxonMobil to release data that: (1) describes the basis for company claims about "gaps in climate science;" (2) contrasts the estimated costs of mitigating climate change to the costs of failing to do so; (3) explains the specific differences between the company's position and that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is the international body of experts charged with climate change research; and (4) outlines all relevant peer-reviewed research data leading to the company's minority viewpoint on climate-change science.
To review the text of the CBIS resolution, go to http://www.cbisonline.com/sri/actions.asp?type=both&id=59.
Wilson continued: "The world seems to believe that supermajor oil companies need to have a strategy for global warming and related legislation, regulation and litigation. Leading energy companies are beginning to prepare for the coming demand for clean, renewable energy technology, while ExxonMobil expects little change in the composition of world energy use. ExxonMobil is the last ostrich to keep its head in the sand on climate change and that is a disservice to shareholders."
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body of experts charged with climate change research, stated in its 2001 Third Assessment Report: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activity... Human influences will continue to change atmospheric composition throughout the 21st century." The study describes climate impacts, such as higher global temperatures and increased precipitation, as "very likely."
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concurs: "The degree of confidence in the IPCC assessment is higher today than it was 10, or even five years ago... there is general agreement that the observed warming is real and particularly strong within the past 20 years."
However, Exxon Mobil has funded scientific studies and made public statements regarding the science of climate change that appear to conflict with these conclusions. According to the June 2002 edition of Exxon Mobil Perspectives: "There continue to be substantial and well-documented gaps in climate science. These gaps limit scientists' ability to assess the extent of any human influence on climate..." A report released by the company in early 2004 continued to "greenwash" climate-change science in the same manner. Contrary to other industry and independent estimates, the ExxonMobil report projected an increasing role for fossil fuel and a continuing minimal demand for clean, renewable energy over at least the next 30 years.
A worldwide movement towards greater regulation to mitigate climate change has resulted from IPCC reports. Consistent with its own position, Exxon Mobil opposes most such regulation. Yet, it has not released primary research or an analysis of data supporting its conclusions. The lack of such information prevents shareholders, policymakers, and the public from being able to make decisions based on the facts the company claims to have. The company also has potentially put shareholders at risk by failing to develop competitive strategies to deal with the risks posed by global warming itself and related legislation, regulation and litigation.
Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) manages approximately
$3.5 billion and combines faith and finance in the responsible
stewardship of Catholic financial assets. CBIS' combination of
premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings,
and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment
approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives
to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a
disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes
principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies
(proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community
investment. The firm contributes a portion of all profits to
support the Church's educational and social ministry.
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