Shareholder rebellions in U.S. oil and gas giants ExxonMobil and Chevron are again at the center stage. Last May 26, dissident hedge fund activists at Engine No. 1 replaced two board members of Exxon with their candidates in their drive to push the O&G company toward accomplishing green goals.
Aside from Engine No. 1, BlackRock, Exxon’s second-biggest shareholder, is believed to have given its support to Engine No. 1’s campaign to oust four directors on the Exxon board in favor of placing its candidates. Engine No. 1 candidates all have backgrounds in fossil fuels, as well as leadership experience in green energy innovation.
At Chevron, the 61 percent shareholder vote in favor of the proposal of the Dutch campaign group Follow This is expected to force the company to reduce its carbon emissions. Mark Van Baal of Follow This said the shareholder revolt indicates a “paradigm shift” and may be considered a victory in the quest to stem climate change.
The success of the Follow This activist group against Chevron is already its third successful coordinated insurrection against major U.S. oil and gas company boards of the US. Around mid-May, Follow This was able to force through votes to cut emissions at ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66.
Meanwhile, green campaigners in the Netherlands succeeded in their court battle at The Hague against Shell – forcing the oil and gas giant to reduce its carbon emissions by 45 percent in the next 10 years. It must be recalled that originally, Shell planned to “cut the overall carbon intensity of the energy it produces by 20 percent in 2030 and by 45 percent in 2035, before reaching an absolute emission cut of 100 percent by 2050.”
On top of the green victory in the Netherlands, it was revealed that Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), Britain’s largest fund manager and one of the oldest fund managers in the City of London, was one of the more influential investors behind a major shareholder vote against Shell’s climate transition targets which, LGIM said, do not seem credibly aligned with the goal of not breaching 1.5°C.
In May last year, it must be recalled that 49.6 percent of shareholders at JP Morgan Chase supported a resolution to curb lending activities that contribute to climate change.
Last May 18, during the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon had to address questions from climate justice activists concerning its funding of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline, the East Africa Crude Oil pipeline, and the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Australia, among other things.
Since the Paris Agreement was ratified on 12 December 2015, JPMorgan Chase has injected $317 billion into fossil fuels. This puts JPMorgan Chase on the spot in terms of majorly advancing the interests of the fossil fuel industry.
The American investment bank and financial services holding company has provided financing for 57 out of the 75 companies responsible for the upstream and midstream expansion of oil and gas. Moreover, JPMorgan Chase continues to finance utilities using coal-fired power and “10 of the top 30 global coal power companies,” on top of those establishments involved in indigenous rights abuses, such as GeoPark, Enbridge, Frontera, and TC Energy.
But where do we figure in all this?
While we, the people, might not have the financial clout to become movers and shakers of global companies involved in fossil fuels, we have the strength in numbers.
We can start buying and using fewer resources to save and reuse/recycle more.
We can conserve water and energy at home.
We can reduce food waste, compost, and minimize our dependence on conventional plastics (which are made from fossil fuel-based chemicals like natural gas or petroleum).
We can make lifestyle changes to reduce our contribution to pollution and global warming.
We can show our support to climate justice activists by sharing information and materials.
We can join environmental organizations and help exert pressure on the government to take a definitive stance on climate change and justice.
We can write to our lawmakers for them to enact stronger laws to hold big polluters in the Philippines accountable for the environmental damage they cause.
We can boycott products of big polluters and fossil fuel producers.
We can start valuing our votes and only support candidates that have a track record of protecting the environment or whose platforms are focused on impactful immediate and long-term climate action.
In short, the solution to the global climate emergency begins and ends with us.