Exxon agrees to look into this whole climate change thing

"Companies need to acknowledge that preparing for a low-carbon future is a necessity, not a choice"

Topics: exxonmobil, Climate Change, fossil fuels, shareholders, carbon emissions, , ,

Fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil has agreed to release a report showing how climate change, and the resulting limits on greenhouse gases, can pose a risk to the value of its assets, the company announced Thursday. It will be the first oil and gas producer to make such information public.

The move came after shareholders insisted that the future value of fossil fuel assets is a pretty big deal for them: “Without additional disclosure, shareholders are unable to determine whether Exxon Mobil is adequately managing these risks or seizing related opportunities,” they wrote in a resolution filed last fall.

According to Exxon, “the report will provide investors with greater transparency into how ExxonMobil plans for a future where market forces and climate regulation makes at least some portion of its carbon reserves unburnable.”

The New York Times has more on the deal:

The agreement, announced on Thursday and made with the wealth management firm Arjuna Capital, which focuses on sustainability, and the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, follows similar pledges from other companies.

…Arjuna, working with As You Sow, filed a shareholder resolution in the fall that it has withdrawn in exchange for the company’s publishing a report on its website by the end of the month, said [As You Sow president Danielle] Fugere and Natasha Lamb, director of equity research and shareholder engagement at Arjuna.

Exxon has promised to show how it will assess the risks to its portfolio of limits that are consistent with President Obama’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. It also agreed to say how that low-carbon situation would affect its capital allocations and expenditures, and to explain why new fossil fuel reserves in which it invests are not at risk of losing value.

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“That the largest American oil and gas company is the first to come to the table on this issue says a lot about the direction that energy markets are taking,” Fugere said. “Companies need to acknowledge that preparing for a low-carbon future is a necessity, not a choice.”

Lindsay Abrams
Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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