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NYS Comptroller DiNapoli and Church of England call on ExxonMobil to set targets for lowering GHG emissions

17th December 2018

Shareholder proposal asks Exxon to set goals in-line with Paris Agreement

Institutional investors with an estimated $1.9 trillion under management, led by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, as Trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund (the Fund), and the Church of England’s investment fund (Church Commissioners) have filed a shareholder resolution calling on ExxonMobil to set and disclose greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets, covering emissions from both its operations and the use of its products.

“ExxonMobil’s lack of GHG emissions reduction targets puts it at odds with its industry peers that have taken such steps,” DiNapoli said. “The world is transitioning to a lower carbon future and Exxon needs to demonstrate its ability to adapt or risk its bottom line along with investors’ confidence.”

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, said: “We want to see ExxonMobil develop a clear strategy for long-term sustainability, in line with international commitments for a safer climate. While we have been pleased to see ExxonMobil start to address the impact of climate change on its business over the past two years, the company has much more to do. Our request would bring Exxon in line with its biggest European peer, Shell, and we believe the board can and should support it.”

The resolution, the first of its kind at ExxonMobil, asks the company to set short-, medium- and long-term GHG targets aligned with the goals established by the Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. ExxonMobil’s peers including Shell and Total have begun to set long-term emission reduction targets following investor engagement.

The resolution has been developed in line with the overarching expectations of the Climate Action 100+ initiative, of ensuring companies develop business strategies consistent with the Paris Agreement. Climate Action 100+ is a global investor initiative, engaging the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters in seeking to ensure they take necessary and sufficient action on climate change. It involves 310 investors with more than $32 trillion under management as the largest shareholder engagement initiative on climate change. The ExxonMobil resolution comes just weeks after Shell and Climate Action 100+ signatory investors agreed to new climate targets, demonstrating the power of collective global investor engagement.

“Global investors are increasingly calling on the companies that they own to demonstrate that they are prepared for a carbon-constrained future,” said Andrew Logan, Director of Oil and Gas at the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres. Ceres is one of the founding partner organizations of Climate Action 100+ responsible for coordinating investor engagements in North America.  “Setting ambitious goals consistent with the Paris Agreement to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions — and taking concrete steps to actualize those goals — would be a sign to investors that Exxon is taking this issue seriously.”

The resolution is expected to be the subject of a shareholder vote at the ExxonMobil’s annual meeting in the spring of 2019.

A previous resolution filed by the Fund and the Church Commissioners won support from 62% of shareholders in 2017 and asked the company to disclose the impact of measures to combat climate change on its business. In response, ExxonMobil released a first report in December 2017. The Fund, Church Commissioners and other investors continue to hold talks with ExxonMobil about the importance of releasing a more comprehensive disclosure report.

A number of investors have joined the Fund and the Church Commissioners in supporting the request, including CalPERS, HSBC Global Asset Management, Presbyterian Church USA and SHARE on behalf of Fonds de Solidarité des Travailleurs du Québec (FTQ).

The full text of the shareholder resolution filed at Exxon is here: https://osc.state.ny.us/press/docs/xom-resolved.pdf

Press Contacts

Office of NY State Comptroller: Matt Sweeney, 212-383-1388
Church Commissioners: Chris Le Marquand, 44-020-7898-1682

About the NYS Common Retirement Fund

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States with assets of $207.4 billion as of the March 31, 2018 end of its most recent fiscal year. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. It has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation.

About the Church Commissioners for England

The Church of England’s investment fund, the Church Commissioners, manage investable assets of some £8.3 billion, mainly held in a diversified portfolio including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners’ work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community.