Shareholders Are Plugging Methane Leaks Themselves
Mark 2018 as the year that irresponsible methane emissions became nearly universally unacceptable. Methane mitigation is now serious business – as demonstrated by some astounding shareholder vote percentages supporting methane-related resolutions this year.
Earlier this spring, nearly 40% of Kinder Morgan shareholders voted for their company to put a lid on its methane emissions. Over 50% of Range Resources shareholders voted for a similar proposal. Recently, our own resolution at oil giant Chevron picked up a 45% vote. These kinds of votes are rarer than a 2018 day without a political scandal, but around methane emissions, shareholders and energy companies recognize a serious problem.
Chevron is one of the top methane emitters in the world. It has lagged behind peers in its mitigation efforts, but even this oil and gas giant recognizes it’s got a problem. Days before Chevron’s annual general meeting (where our methane emissions proposal was on the ballot) the company signed onto voluntary Guiding Principles which some of its largest peers signed on to last year. This is an important step, but guiding principles are no replacement for on-the-ground action – and action is exactly what’s needed now.
Methane is an intensely climate forcing gas -- 86x more powerful than CO2 over 20 years. The good news is that it is also one of the most straight forward and cost-effective to reduce, as noted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) – and we’re already seeing commitments by major energy producers to do something about it. Recently, ExxonMobil announced an intent to reduce methane emissions by 15% by 2020, following a shareholder vote of close to 40% in 2017 on a resolution As You Sow filed. ExxonMobil also signed onto the Guiding Principles.
In the 2017 Disclosing the Facts special methane report, issued by As You Sow, Investor Environmental Health Network, and Boston Common, we laid out the methane emissions problem and best practices for addressing it. Since then, we’ve already begun to see major improvements as shareholders and companies work together to reduce methane emissions. Where companies needed a push toward action, shareholders stepped up with some of the largest votes we’ve seen on methane-related issues.
For the good of the planet, we’re excited that shareholders are this galvanized. Over to you, oil & gas companies. The pressure is on.