Corporate shareholders are acting on climate change

While fossil-fuel funded politicians avoid addressing climate change and strip away governance enabling industry polluters, shareholders have been picking up the baton. Last week, Reuters published an article called “Chevron ties executive pay to methane and flaring reduction,” which defines specific gas emissions targets.

The article penned by Jennifer Hiller notes that it is not just executives with incentive plan targets to reduce emissions. 45,000 employees also have incentive plan emission targets. In other words, their pay is tied to combatting climate change. The intermediate goal is to reduce gas emissions by 25% by 2023.

While Chevron is the first to tie incentives to reducing gas emissions, in the month before the current US President announced our pullout of the Paris Climate Change Accord, three energy companies -ExxonMobil, PP&L and Occidental Petroleum – announced shareholder votes requiring management to report on efforts to address climate change. The Exxon-Mobil vote is telling in that they face a shareholder lawsuit and one by the New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, for misrepresenting the impact of climate change on their business to investors.

Per The Guardian, the NYAG lawsuit notes Exxon’s “longstanding fraudulent scheme” to downplay the impact of climate change including under-representing the “proxy costs” of fossil-fuel extraction. This lawsuit follows a three-year investigation and uses Exxon’s own research and scientists’ speeches against them. Before they took a “global warming is a hoax” public relations stance around the turn of the century. Exxon was active in climate change research. Even Shell produced a video in the 1990s that was made for educational purposes about the dangers of climate change.

But, it does not stop there. Well before fossil-fuel company shareholders made these impositions on management, more forward thinking companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, IKEA and Walmart have invested in renewable energy like wind and solar energy. IKEA and Walmart are using their expansive store rooftops to place solar panels, while the three technology companies have used all of the above renewable energy strategies to power their  data centers. In my state of NC, these companies have helped propel the state forward as a top four solar energy state.

Let me close with my favorite Super Bowl commercial of last week, Budweiser produced a commercial that noted their beer is now being produced by wind energy. Seeing the Clydesdales meander down a road surrounded by windmills was a beautiful sight. It showed this is not a future goal – it is here. And, just to show it is making a difference, over 1/3 of Iowa’s electricity is produced by wind energy and Germany just announced renewable energy now exceeds coal energy as the biggest electricity source and they plan to be 100% renewable energy powered by 2038, twenty years from now.

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15 thoughts on “Corporate shareholders are acting on climate change

  1. The local farmers are up in arms about that commercial because they think Budweiser is taking them to task for their corn starch! But it is true that we might do well to avoid investing that particular corn product! And, by the way, I do think more of the Congressmen and women know about global warming than admit it. They know but they keep quiet because those who put them into office might withhold their financial support in the future. You are right: there are signs of hope despite the inaction of those in Congress and the White House.

    • Hugh, I read about the backlash on the corn syrup one. I was speaking about the wind power commercial which was in the second half. Maybe fewer people saw that one with the low scoring game.

      I agree that more in Congress know of climate change, yet are told to look the other way. Exxon now admits about climate change, but still funds the opposite. Keith

      • I suppose if my job depended on hand-outs from corporations I would be reluctant to bite the hand that feeds me. But I do wonder whether at some point one or two in the Congress will stand up and say “enough!!”

      • Hugh, this issue is one of retreating lines on the sand, once the fossil-fuel industry decided to put their science away and a hire the same PR firm that advises the tobacco industry. What they failed to realize is that did not end well for the tobacco companies for precisely the same reason – in their files was confirmation they knew nicotine was addictive dating back to 1964 and eoght CEOs lied to Congress.

        The fossil-fuel industry effectively sold the hoax story, changed the term from a more negative global warming to climate change and leveraged VP Cheney to write industry favorable legislation (you must watch “Vice”).

        The retreating lines were drawn as the data unfolded, a President who saw the concern made it an issue and UN acted.

        The people and shareholders will push this issue. Chevron is only the first. The GOP is laughing and welcoming the Dem Green New Deal as a losing proposition, but the Demd need to push this. The GOP has been on the wrong side of this issue once the fossil-fuel industry started the hoax BS. Unfortunately, between their funding, Sinclair and Fox, the GOP is painting global warming as a political issue. The science is not. Their failure to act is very political. It is time for responsibility adults to tell them to wake up. Keith

  2. It is heartening to see that some of the industry giants are taking climate change seriously and doing their part to reduce carbon emissions. I applaud them for it. But, unfortunately when we have a ‘man’ in the White House who is determined to put profit above all else, who is playing to a base comprised of the fossil fuel giants, it won’t be enough. Still, it’s a start. I haven’t seen the Super Bowl commercial, but will go in search of it now. I love the Clydesdales and will always remember the commercial they did post 9/11. Let us hope that more companies follow the lead of Amazon, Wal-Mart and others, but even more, let us hope that the people of this nation wake up and demand that our government be held accountable for working toward combating climate change.

    • Jill, the government usually follows, but in this case they got on the bandwagon and then backed off under Trump. Companies, cities and some states are leading our fight. It would be nice if the US federal government leveraged their efforts more.

      The Dept of Defense, NASA and other agencies see the threat. We need people to lean on the Senators and President to act more. We need to have a place at the UN table on climate change. Keith

      • I fully agree, but under Trump, I don’t look for it to happen. He keeps staffing the Dept. of Interior and the EPA with oil industry execs and climate deniers and shows no intention of listening to reason.

      • Jill, for someone who spoke of change, I don’t think his followers understood that meant making it easier for the wealthy to make money. He is leaving the mess he is making for future legislators. Keith

  3. Note to Readers: I was reminded by one of the recommended posts above that Mars, the candy company has a significant effort underway moving toward renewable energy. Let’s have some M&Ms.

  4. Dear Keith,

    Around Oct 2018, President Trump put a Koch Brothers’ executive into key position on E.P.A..You, Hugh, Jill and friends, we all know that the fossil fuel industry wants this climate change sconce denial to continue but fortunately, some shareholders/ board members are smart enough to know that this anti-climate change stance will eventually make these oil/ fuel giants, less profitable.

    They are part of the GOP dark money mega donors who crack the whip over President Trump and the GOP lawmakers. They’re the ones who wanted President Trump in the White House, as he would be willing to do whatever these corporate/ wealthy donors wanted.

    The Koch brothers (fossil fuel titans) and like minded ‘dark money GOP donors heavily favored the 2017 GOP tax cuts bill, the regulation reforms, especially those related to the fossil fuel industry, and the placement of conservative justices on the US federal court system who would tend to rule in favor of corporate interests while backing Evangelicals’ wish to limit women’s access to legal abortions and LGBTQ rights. These donors could care less that the president is compromised by financial ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel; is an inveterate liar; lazy, incompetent to where he’s a clear and present danger to the US national security interests. That the planet may be in peril because of the president’s thinking regarding climate change is immaterial.

    One of the biggest sinners regarding this, is Marathon Oil.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, thanks for providing a summary of your recent post here. Exxon will likely be found guilty of misrepresentation to its shareholders on the impact of climate change. Trump has been a very good friend to the fossil fuel industry offering support and media distraction. He has filled the swamp with more and worse creatures. Keith

  5. Note to Readers: It was announced today the board of TVA ignored the wishes of the President and will be closing two old coal plants. They made a financial decision based on facts, not rhetoric. More coal plants have closed under Trump in two years than under Obama’s entire first term. And, more are scheduled this year.

  6. Update: Underwood has been replaced by James. Unrelated news from there: the utilities regulator is busy forcing the annoying and irresponsible cable company to divest its local operations and get out of the place.

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