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Climate resolutions fail at Chevron, Exxon

Zack Colman

Resolutions pushing Chevron and Exxon Mobil to disclose climate change risks to petrochemical facilities failed at their respective Wednesday shareholder meetings.

The preliminary results provided by As You Sow, the shareholder activist group that filed the measures, sought to require reports on physical and public health risks from those plants resulting from climate-linked events like more extreme storms. The group raised concern about the firms' planned Gulf Coast petrochemical investments following pollution releases from such operations when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017.

"These investor votes demonstrate increasing concern for companies expanding petrochemical operations in areas that are facing climate-related physical impacts like stronger and more frequent storms and flooding," As You Sow energy program manager Lila Holzman said in a statement.

Forty-six percent of investors backed the Chevron proposal, compared with 25 percent of Exxon Mobil shareholders. The votes came just weeks after nearly 55 percent of shareholders for Phillips 66, which operates a joint venture chemical company with Chevron, approved the same resolution.

Some investors have increasingly pushed climate-related resolutions within energy company shareholder meetings. They have cited concerns about business operational risks from more extreme weather and "stranded assets" in which more aggressive climate policies degrade the value of fossil fuel resources.

Companies have largely asserted those worries are not material. Under the Trump administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission administration also has weighed in on such activity, blocking proposals requiring Chevron and Exxon Mobil to detail how they would reduce their "total contribution to climate change" and align greenhouse gas emissions targets with the Paris climate agreement.