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NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller
Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

Shareholders Send Exxon a Strong Message on Climate Change

May 25, 2016

ExxonMobil shareholders showed significant support for a motion asking the company to report on how its business will be affected by worldwide efforts to combat climate change, despite the board of directors’ opposition. The resolution, filed by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the Church Commissioners for England, asks the company to assess and report on how its business model will be affected by global efforts to limit the average rise in temperatures to below 2-degrees Celsius.

The vote result shows that 38.2 percent of shareholders supported the resolution — a record level of support for a climate change resolution at an Exxon annual meeting — despite the board’s recommendation that shareholders vote against the motion. Earlier this year ExxonMobil also unsuccessfully sought the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval to omit the proposal from its ballot.

“A significant number of Exxon shareholders want the company to step up when it comes to climate change,” said Pete Grannis, First Deputy Comptroller for the New York State Comptroller. “Exxon has a responsibility to its investors to explain how it can adjust its business to meet the global effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Investors need to know that Exxon is taking steps to protect its long-term value.”

Edward Mason, Head of Responsible Investment for the Church Commissioners, said: “We are delighted to have got the highest ever vote for a climate change proposal at an ExxonMobil AGM. This is a significant show of strength on climate disclosure at Exxon by shareholders.

“Considering the scale of this vote, we urge Exxon to sit down urgently with its investors to agree the reporting it will provide on the risk that climate change policy poses to its business. Following the Paris Agreement the time for climate risk reporting has well and truly arrived and the investor call for it is clear. It will not go away.”

More than 60 institutional investors with over $10 trillion in combined assets under management declared their support for the motion ahead of today’s meeting, including major fund managers and pension funds Amundi, AXA Investment Management, BNP Paribas, CalPERS, Legal & General Investment Management, Natixis Asset Management, New York City Retirement Fund, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global and Schroder's. The world’s two leading independent proxy advisors, ISS and Glass Lewis, also supported the proposal.

Exxon's peers, Shell and BP, have already agreed to disclose how they will be impacted by efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions in response to similar shareholder proposals co-filed in 2015 by the Church Commissioners and other investors and endorsed by the boards and shareholders of both companies.

The Common Retirement Fund holds shares of ExxonMobil with an estimated value of $995.5 million.

Timeline of the Shareholder Proposal

December 2015: The Fund and the Church of England file their proposal with ExxonMobil

January 2016: ExxonMobil seeks Securities and Exchange Commission approval to block the proposal from a vote of shareholders.

March 2016: The SEC rejects ExxonMobil’s request.

April - May 2016: Dozens of major institutional investors, including CalPERS, the New York City Retirement Systems and the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global announce their support for the proposal.

May 25: ExxonMobil annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas.

About the New York State Common Retirement Fund

The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States, with $178.3 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2015. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has a diversified portfolio of public and private equities, fixed income, real estate and alternative instruments.

About the Church of England

The Church of England’s investment fund, the Church Commissioners, manages a fund of some £7 billion, held mainly in a diversified portfolio including equities, real estate and alternative investment strategies. The Commissioners' work today supports the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community.

The annual objectives of the Church Commissioners include:

  • A return on investments of RPI +5%
  • Supporting poorer dioceses with ministry costs
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops' ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganization and settling the future of closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving and retired clergy

A copy of the latest Church Commissioners annual report can be found at: