Exxon, It’s Time for an Intervention
We need to talk. You’ve been hurting yourself for a while now, and we, as shareholders, want to help. It hurts us to see how you’re putting all your eggs in a basket with a massive hole in it, because we’re invested (literally) in your future. When you succeed, we succeed. When you fail, we fail. But you know what really hurts? When you stop us from trying to make a better future for ExxonMobil and its shareholders.
We as investors put forth a resolution with a modest request. We asked you to produce a report explaining how you could adapt your business model to align with a decarbonizing economy, including moving toward investments in clean energy. This inquiry is in your and shareholders’ best interest. Every company knows the value of diversification, especially when key assets are set to lose value in the future.
Perhaps some investors think that you’re still on the right track. Others believe the writing is on the wall, with the rise of low carbon market forces such as electric cars, not to mention the Paris Agreement’s goal of a 2 degree Celsius maximum climate rise. Many other long term shareholders simply want to know more about whether, and how, you are thinking about transitioning your business model to thrive in a low carbon economy.
But instead of letting them vote, you had the Securities and Exchange Commission block the shareholder proposal.
We get it. Exxon’s livelihood has been tied up in carbon for a long time. But your peers at Total, Shell, and Statoil have already begun to prepare for a low carbon future, diversifying into clean energy projects in wind, solar, and renewables storage.
Your shareholders deserve the respect and the opportunity to understand whether Exxon is working to develop a better path forward. Silencing shareholders’ important questions only places the company at greater risk. If Exxon will not listen to its shareholders, its competitors may, to their benefit. And, without answers to their fundamental questions, shareholders may choose to no longer stand by you.
The SEC is not meant to protect you from important shareholder questions. Rather, the proposal process is intended to allow an open discussion between shareholders and their company.
Responding to shareholders, rather than running for cover, is the better path forward -- for shareholders’ financial security and for yours.