Setback for Follow This and the climate: Chevron and ExxonMobil avoid climate resolutions

ExxonMobil and Chevron have managed to avoid resolutions on alignment with the Paris climate accord that were filed by Dutch green shareholder group Follow This due to alleged micromanagement and a technicality, the SEC just communicated and Responsible Investor revealed.

The resolutions stated that the companies have shareholder support to align their strategies with the Paris Agreement, meaning that such strategies should cover emissions of their energy products (Scope 3).

“Apparently the SEC initially concurs with the oil major’s refusal to allow shareholders a vote on Scope 3 (product emissions),” says Mark van Baal, the founder of Follow This. “This is a setback given the fact that climate resolutions have been so effective in Europe.

Effective in Europe

In Europe, the same resolution compelled Shell, Equinor, and BP to set ambitions for decreasing product emissions (Scope 3), thanks to the votes of a minority of responsible investors that see climate change as a fundamental treat to their billions of investments. Shell, Equinor, and BP at one time advised shareholders to vote against the resolution because Scope 3 was “unreasonable” while “beyond their control” and then made a U-turn on their position afterwards. ExxonMobil and Chevron still take that position on Scope 3.

As seen in Europe, only clear-cut climate-target resolutions bring change in the position of oil major CEOs on Scope 3,” says Van Baal.


Follow This will appeal this decision. “We will ask the full Commission to review the staff’s decision, because we hope the SEC sees climate change as significant enough for a shareholder vote.”

More and more investors agree that an oil major without Scope 3 targets can never commit to the Paris Climate Agreement.

With or without a climate resolution on the ballot, ExxonMobil and Chevron can look forward to a heated AGM in May. Their refusal to take responsibility for climate action will not stand.

Briefing on Follow This climate resolution for Chevron and ExxonMobil

  • Shareholders support the company to align its strategy with the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Chevron argues that the proposal may be excluded with the claim that the proposal tries to micromanage the company (in a so-called no-action letter to the SEC).

Follow This argued that

  • The resolution is intentionally non-prescriptive and agnostic as to business models and technology. Therefore, it does not micromanage the company.
  • Even if it did micromanage, climate change is a significant social policy issue that transcends the day-to-day business operations and may therefore not be excluded (*).
  • “Climate change is significant enough to concern shareholders and therefore appropriate for a shareholder vote,” says McKenzie Ursch (Follow This) who wrote the rebuttal.
  • “We will appeal this decision and hope that we can convince the SEC to see climate change as significant enough for a shareholder vote,” says Mark van Baal.

Further, Chevron argues that the proposal was not eligible, which Follow This rebutted easily, while the SEC eschews an “overly technical reading of its rules.”

ExxonMobil initially only argued incompleteness but eluded on other arguments, such as micromanagement, which we included in our rebuttal.

(*) The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stated that proposals focusing on a significant policy issue are not excludable under the micromanagement consideration “because the proposals would transcend the day-to-day business matters and raise policy issues so significant that it would be appropriate for a shareholder vote.”

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