Faith-Based Shareholders Call on Exxon to Address Climate Change on Moral Grounds
From Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama to the Episcopal Church, religious leaders have been speaking out on the moral obligation to fight climate change. Now, a group of faith-based investors are filing a resolution asking Exxon to take urgent action on climate change as a matter of conscience. This resolution is the first of its kind, and as InsideClimate News explains here, it is a signal that Exxon’s shareholders care about people as well as profits.
Health and higher education leaders have also spoken out on the moral dimensions of climate change, and called on organizations within their sectors to divest from fossil fuels. Health professionals point out that climate change is already affecting public health, and supporting companies that contribute to health issues goes against the oath of doctors to “do no harm.” In this post, Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm, compares the fossil fuel industry to the tobacco industry, and urges the health community to fight against fossil fuels the same way they fought tobacco.
The shareholder resolution comes at a time of increased scrutiny of Exxon and its practices. Exxon has been accused of misleading the public on the impacts of climate change, and members of Congress are asking for an investigation of the oil giant. The tobacco comparison may play a role here as well – Exxon could potentially be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which was successfully used against the tobacco industry in 2006. Cigarette companies were found guilty of concealing the results of their own research on the dangers of tobacco, in order to avoid health regulations.
Climate change affects everyone, but it is particularly damaging to the most vulnerable – lower income communities, people of color, children, and the elderly. In the words of the resolution, “ExxonMobil claims that its energy production responds to a ‘moral imperative’ to meet growing energy demand and eradicate poverty, but this does not offset the necessity to mitigate climate change or the moral imperative to limit warming to 2°C.”
By David Hasemyer, reporter for InsideClimate News
Faith-based shareholder groups have begun filing resolutions, as Exxon faces a NY probe and rising calls for federal prosecution of its climate duplicity.
ExxonMobil stockholders are turning up the heat on management over the oil giant’s history of resisting action to confront climate change with a first-ever request asking the company to accept moral responsibility for global warming.
The proposal by the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment calls on Exxon to take urgent climate action on moral grounds by agreeing to limit temperature rise to the globally accepted 2 degrees Celsius target. Tri-State represents nearly 40 Roman Catholic shareholder organizations with pension funds invested in the oil giant.
“ExxonMobil claims that its energy production responds to a ‘moral imperative’ to meet growing energy demand and eradicate poverty, but this does not offset the necessity to mitigate climate change or the moral imperative to limit warming to 2°C,” according to the resolution.
Image credit: Susan Melkisethian via Flickr