A major British institutional investor will
tomorrow oppose the re-election of Lee Raymond as chief executive of ExxonMobil
on "ethical grounds" at its annual meeting.
The challenge will be launched by the Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS)
which says the world's biggest stock-listed oil company talks down links between
man-made CO2 emissions and climate change. Exxon, under Mr Raymond's leadership,
has lobbied against the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gases and against the US
government signing the treaty, the CIS believes.
The investor, which holds $25m worth of Exxon
stock, is also opposed to Mr Raymond's double role as chairman and chief
executive of the company which trades in the UK under the Esso banner. "We are
taking this unprecedented action of opposing the election of a chief executive
as we have serious concerns on their management of climate change and the
leadership provided on this issue," said Ian Jones, head of responsible
investment at CIS.
The corporate reputation of Exxon is being damaged by the "head in the sand"
approach of Mr Raymond in the face of evidence that human activity is a
significant contributor to climate change and extreme weather, argues the CIS.
"In the long term, their reluctance to invest in renewables generation now
indicates an aversion to managing this gravest of all environmental issues," it
And it claims to be better-placed than many to comment on this issue because
it has witnessed the rising insurance claims coming through due to global
warming. Environmental flooding alone has led to a 500% increase in claims over
the past decade which now total more than £1.5m a year, the CIS says.
Exxon, which also faces a Stop Esso petrol campaign from environmentalists,
has always said that its critics misunderstood its position.
"We recognise that the risk of climate change and its potential impacts on
society and ecosys tems may prove to be significant, and these are issues we
take seriously," an Exxon spokesman said last night.
"While studies must continue to better understand these risks and possible
consequences, we will continue to take actions and work with others on ways to
bring scientific and technological expertise to energy-related solutions that
are technically and economically viable," it added.
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