Exxon Mobil must allow climate change vote: SEC

Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:46am EDT
 
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By Ernest Scheyder

(Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has ruled Exxon Mobil Corp must include a climate change resolution on its annual shareholder proxy, a defeat for the world's largest publicly traded oil producer, which had argued it already provides adequate carbon disclosures.

In a Tuesday letter to Exxon seen by Reuters, the SEC said the oil producer cannot keep a proposal spearheaded by New York state's comptroller from a full shareholder vote at the company's annual meeting in May.

If approved, the proposal would force Exxon to outline specific risks that climate change or legislation designed to curb it could pose to its ability to operate profitably.

Exxon had argued that the proposal was vague and that it already publishes carbon-related information for shareholders, including a 2014 report on its website entitled, "Energy and Carbon – Managing the Risks."

The SEC found those reports do not go far enough.

"It does not appear that Exxon Mobil's public disclosures compare favorably with the guidelines of the proposal," Justin Kisner, an attorney-adviser with the SEC, wrote to the oil producer.

Exxon Mobil declined to comment on the SEC's ruling.

"We'll be communicating the board's recommendations on shareholder resolutions through the proxy document next month," Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers said.   Continued...

 
A sign is seen at the entrance of the Exxonmobil Port Allen Lubricants Plant in Port Allen, Louisiana, November 6, 2015. REUTERS/Lee Celano