Shareholders of four US oil companies vote on climate proposals

Aerial view of Phillips 66 Company's Los Angeles Refinery in Carson, California
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the Phillips 66 Company Los Angeles refinery, which processes domestic and imported crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel and diesel fuel, at sunset in Carson, California, U.S. March 11, 2022. REUTERS/Bing Guan

March 14, 2022

By Sabrina Valle

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Shareholders of four US oil companies will vote next quarter on proposals to help the companies meet emissions targets set in Paris in 2015, climate activist group Follow This has said.

The votes will test shareholders’ willingness to introduce new air pollution restrictions amid high energy prices and renewed energy security concerns following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” said Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This. “This shows that most oil majors are embracing the winds of change at the SEC.”

Last fall, the US Securities and Exchange Commission raised the hurdle for companies that want to exclude environmental and social policy proposals from shareholders.

Follow This is an activist group of 8,000 shareholders who own shares in oil companies in Europe and the United States.

While Occidental Petroleum has tried to dismiss the group’s proposal because the claims have already been “substantially implemented,” Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66 have not blocked the group’s petition, van Baal said.

Occidental and Phillips 66 declined to comment. Exxon said it considers feedback and input from shareholders. Chevron said it tries to rule out any suggestion that doesn’t conform to the rules, regardless of its merits. Conoco did not respond to a request for comment.

Follow This has previously made similar proposals, urging oil companies to “significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” Those petitions last year were supported by 61% of voting shareholders at Chevron, 58% at Conoco, and 80% at Phillips 66, according to company records.

Follow This now proposes that companies set targets consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement, an agreement to halve emissions by 2030.

Oil prices hit a 14-year high above $130 a barrel this month as buyers shun Russian products following the invasion of Ukraine. That leap should accelerate investment in renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, he said. [O/R]

“Perhaps they will have to replace the Russian supply with oil from other countries in the short term. But in the long run we don’t need more oil and gas,” said Van Baal.

“There is no more time for a slow transition.”

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Tom Hogue) Shareholders of four US oil companies vote on climate proposals


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