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December 13, 2021updated 24 Mar 2022 4:32pm

Exxon faces shareholder pressure to improve climate focus

Activist investor group Follow This is ramping up pressure on oil and gas companies to boost climate commitments, targeting eight majors.

By Scarlett Evans

Oil and gas major Exxon Mobil Corp is facing renewed shareholder pressure to accelerate its carbon reduction targets, with climate activist investment group Follow This calling on the company to increase targets on its Scope 3 emissions.

The news comes in the wake of calls last week from the Coalition for a Responsible Exxon  for Exxon to replace its CEO, amidst claims that the company has been “too slow” to adapt to environmental needs.

Follow This’s call for new Scope 3 targets comes ahead of Exxon’s 2022 general meeting. The activist group similarly levelled environmental pressure against Royal Dutch Shell in 2016, with this latest action the first time it has sought to accelerate environmental action from a US firm.

The group is intending to target a total of eight US and European oil and gas majors for their annual general meetings in the upcoming year, including Marathon Petroleum, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Phillips 66.

“From the courtroom to the lab, and on the balance sheet, the consensus is clear: oil majors need Paris-aligned decarbonisation strategies that reduce emissions in the short-term,” Follow This said in a statement on Sunday. “In 2022, voting must compel oil majors to set Paris-consistent targets to reduce pollution from their own operations and put in place deep cuts in absolute emissions reductions by 2030.”

Exxon has responded to the calls, saying it is still on target to meet its 2025 goals. The company’s investment strategy was announced earlier this month, with an increased focus on emission-reduction technologies – pledging $15bn towards such initiatives over the next six years.

According to its report, Exxon anticipates a 15%-20% reduction in greenhouse gas intensity by the end of this year, as compared to 2016 levels. This achievement is four years ahead of schedule. The group is also predicted to see a 40%-50% reduction in methane intensity and a 35%-45% reduction in flaring intensity compared to 2016.

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