Norway’s sovereign wealth fund votes against Chevron and Exxonmobil
London CNN –
The world’s largest investor in the stock market wants ExxonMobil and Chevron to do more to tackle the climate crisis.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which has total assets of $1.4 trillion, said Friday it would back calls for US oil companies to set more aggressive emissions reduction targets.
It said it would support the motions by climate activist group Follow This at next Wednesday’s annual company shareholder meetings. ExxonMobil and Chevron (CVX) have asked shareholders to vote them down.
Follow This has called on the companies, as well as European oil majors BP (BP), Shell (RDSA) and TotalEnergies (TOT), to set more ambitious targets for reducing their ‘Scope 3’ emissions by the end of the decade. These emissions include the greenhouse gases produced when customers use their products, such as gasoline, kerosene and natural gas.
The group says the revised targets would align companies better with the Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This, told CNN that the Norwegian fund had a “huge responsibility”, adding that it was surprising it hadn’t taken similar action against European energy companies at its shareholder meetings.
“Basically they are telling Shell, BP and Total: you don’t have to reduce your emissions this decade. We expect them to rectify this omission over the next year,” he said.
The fund did not vote with activists against BP and Shell at its most recent annual shareholder meetings, held last month and last week respectively.
Explaining the decision, a spokesman told CNN on Friday that BP and Shell had outlined how their “Scope 3” targets align with the Paris Agreement.
“Although the goals of these three companies are different, they all demonstrate industry-leading ambitions,” the spokesperson added.
Nor did the Norwegian fund participate in a shareholder rebellion at TotalEnergies’ annual meeting in Paris on Friday, where 30% voted in favor of a climate resolution tabled by Follow This. The group said the vote paralleled a revolt it led at Shell’s 2021 shareholder meeting.
ExxonMobil, which has not set “Scope 3” targets, said in a letter to shareholders last month that such targets would encourage oil and gas companies to divest their assets, thereby reducing the range of products “the society needs”.
“Make no mistake, we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the company said.
Chevron aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 5% over the next five years from a 2016 baseline, a target that covers “Scope 3” emissions, but has prompted shareholders to reject proposals from activists.
The proposal would “require a downsizing of Chevron’s business,” the company said in a letter to shareholders last month.
In a statement to CNN, Chevron said its “approach to Scope 3 emissions allows it to maintain or grow its oil and gas business in response to market demand” while “still pursuing its intent to reduce emissions intensity.” “.
ExxonMobil did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the voting intentions of Norway’s wealth fund, which is funded by the country’s vast oil and gas revenues. The company owns interests in more than 9,200 companies in 63 countries with a total capital stock of US$790 billion.
According to the latest fund data, the company owns a 0.86% stake in Chevron and a 1.13% stake in ExxonMobil.
In its Friday statement, the fund also said it was calling for the resignation of Chevron CEO Mike Wirth and ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods as the companies’ chief executive officers because it believed the top positions should be held by two different people.
“The board should exercise objective judgment on company matters and be able to make decisions independently of management,” the fund said on its website.