Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp have blocked an in-house effort to push the oil giant further into renewable energy and set targets for curbing climate-damaging emissions at an annual meeting on Wednesday in Texas.
Efforts to push the energy firm to take greater action against global warming have been spearheaded by stakeholders from the famous and wealthy Rockefeller family. John Rockefeller founded the forerunner of the company in the late 19th century.
But shareholders at the annual meeting in Dallas rejected a proposal that would have forced the company to adopt “quantitative goals” for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.
NO FOCUS ON RENEWABLES
Exxon has long been a chief target of environmental groups, but chief executive Rex Tillerson defended the company’s record and rejected the idea that renewables should become its chief focus in the future.
Oil and gas will continue to make up the vast bulk of energy supplies over the next 20 years and beyond, and the best way to reduce emissions “is to find ways to improve the efficiency with which we use traditional fuels,” he told the gathering.
“We have the same concern as people all over the world, and that is to provide the world with the energy it needs while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions,” Tillerson said.
FEELING THE HEAT
Tillerson also survived an effort to reduce his own influence over the company by splitting up the jobs of chairman and chief executive officer — both currently held by him.
The possibility of capping the emissions of US companies has gathered steam in the last few months. Congress in June will for the first time consider legislation that would introduce a cap-and-trade system in the US. All three major remaining presidential candidates also support mandatory curbs on emissions.
Exxon reported US$40.6 billion in profits last year, the largest-ever for a US company. The surging profits have led the company and its energy rivals to appear before Congress to answer allegations of price-fixing amid record high petrol prices in the US.
Exxon last week said its profits should be taken in the context of the company’s size and insisted all earnings were being fed back into production upgrades, new technologies and boosting energy efficiency.