President Donald Trump and conservatives may refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that man-made climate change is real, but that opinion may not be shared by a very big player in the oil game — Chevron.
In its 2016 10-K financial performance report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chevron acknowledged that "increasing attention to climate change risks has resulted in an increased possibility of governmental investigations and, potentially, private litigation against the company," ThinkProgress noted.
As Greenpeace USA's Naomi Ages told ThinkProgress, Chevron's report marked an important milestone: It's another big oil company that has publicly recognized that climate change — and specifically the litigation and government investigations caused by it — could pose "a material risk to the company and its shareholders."
This revelation is occurring amidst a class-action lawsuit against Exxon for increasing its stock price by neglecting to be forthright with shareholders about how climate change could impact its fiscal bottom line. Similarly, there are several investigations into Exxon's practices, including one by the SEC based on how the company "has valued its oil reserves in the wake of low prices and potential curbs on carbon emissions." In addition, attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts are investigating whether Exxon misled its shareholders about the risk that climate change poses to its financial health.
Exxon notes on its website that: "The risk of climate change is clear and the risk warrants action. Increasing carbon emissions in the atmosphere are having a warming effect. There is a broad scientific and policy consensus that action must be taken to further quantify and assess the risks."
Chevron's decision comes at a crucial period in the company's future. Along with Exxon, Chevron fell well short of its earnings expectations for the fourth quarter. Like much of the stock market, though, Chevron's stock did rally in the aftermath of President Trump's well-received address to a joint session of Congress.