ExxonMobil rubbishes green investor report
LONDON - ExxonMobil Corp , the world\'s biggest oil company, labelled as \"ridiculous\" a report by a group of dissident investors that the company\'s stance on global warming hurt shareholder value.
The report, written by Mark Mansley of Claros Consulting, said the oil giant\'s approach to climate change could cost the company dearly in the future if it failed to diversify into renewable energy and end its dependence on big oil.
\"It\'s ridiculous to suggest that ExxonMobil\'s approach to climate change is diminishing shareholder value,\" the company said in a statement, adding that ExxonMobil took climate change very seriously.
ExxonMobil logged sales of 3 billion last year, and netted billion in profit, slightly below the previous year\'s record taking.
The report published on Thursday states that Exxon is perfectly positioned to champion climate change concerns without compromising big profits.
A former director of Chase Investment Bank, Mansley argues that Exxon should capitalise more on its huge reserves of gas, which is cleaner than both oil and coal, generate revenue from emissions trading schemes, and diversify into renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and wave power.
Mansley also favours the idea of a tax on carbon, where the revenue from the tax is given back to energy companies to invest in renewables. That, he says, could be designed to be \"revenue neutral\" for the companies or even create a net surplus.
The oil giant has fought tooth and nail against mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, questioning the science behind global warming and a worldwide treaty on climate change - the Kyoto Protocol.
Mansley sees a risk that oil companies could be held legally responsible for global warming, and become subject to litigation in the same way that tobacco companies have been forced to pay billions of dollars compensation to sick smokers.
\"The risks ExxonMobil is exposing itself to are far greater than the risks the company faces from any likely policies to reduce emissions,\" his report reads.
Mansley thinks the company could lose up to billion from damaged reputation alone.
\"In years to come, the legal costs could amount to between 0 million- billion a year if the tobacco industry is any guide.\"
He said that establishing liability for global warming is still years away, but said that if oil companies were found to be liable, the damages could potentially exceed 0 billion.
By contrast, he said the cost of what he called \"reasonable climate change policies\" could be as little as billion.
Exxon said it had already taken action on a global basis to improve energy efficiency, reduce its own emissions and help develop technologies that offer solutions.
A spokesman said the company has held an anti-Kyoto Protocol stance, consistent with the United States, and has not invested in renewable energy as it believes the cost-benefit analysis simply does not add up. This has led to it being unfairly targeted by environmentalists, he added.
Exxon\'s rivals Shell and BP have recently hiked investments in renewable energy projects.
ExxonMobil said the group which commissioned the study has proposed green energy resolutions at company meetings for many years but they have been overwhelmingly rejected.
The investors who commissioned the report, shareholder activist, Robert A. G. Monks, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies, and Campaign Exxon Mobil, own roughly two million shares in Exxon.
Last year a resolution they tabled at the annual general meeting was supported by 8.6 percent of investors, or roughly billion worth of stock.
Story by Stefano Ambrogi and Neil Chatterjee
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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