Activist shareholder group presses ExxonMobil for net-zero goal

ExxonMobil has already upped its climate plans, just three months into an activist investor’s campaign to force change inside the company. Now the group, Engine No. 1, is pushing the oil giant to set a new goal: net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Engine No. 1 released a letter this morning reiterating its call for ExxonMobil to overhaul its board of directors by adding four new members who have the expertise to steer the company toward climate neutrality, according to Bloomberg. That’s a goal already adopted by European oil producers such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total. ExxonMobil and fellow U.S. major Chevron have resisted.

“This is not just a climate issue but a fundamental investor issue—no different than capital allocation or management compensation—given the immense risk to ExxonMobil’s current business model in a rapidly changing world,” San Francisco-based Engine No. 1 wrote in a letter sent to the company. The group is backed by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest pension fund in the U.S. and the owner of more than $400 million in ExxonMobil shares. ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This is the latest salvo in Engine No. 1’s campaign against ExxonMobil, which began in December. Unlike previous climate shareholder efforts that focused on getting the company to disclose environmental data or be more ambitious about cutting emissions, Engine No. 1 is now insisting that change will only happen if the board includes leaders with experience in the energy transition. 

ExxonMobil currently produces virtually no renewable energy, and as Bloomberg Green reported last year the company had previously made long-range plans to expand fossil-fuel production and increase greenhouse gas output. Read the full story.