Exxon Mobil: oil vs God.

Sister Patricia Daly watches her shares closely, including that of Exxon Mobil. They will after all provide for her retirement in the not too distant future. But Daly also watches Exxon Mobil closely for other reasons too. For the past 10 years she has been to every annual share holder meeting and put the same question forward; What is Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, planning to do about global warming?

Exxon Mobil does very nicely for its shareholders, including Sister Daly whose order, the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Caldwell, New Jersey has a few hundred shares in Exxon Mobil, as part of its $15m retirement fund. Daly however has spent decades campaigning for corporate giants to change their ways for the better in areas of social responsibility and the environment. She has been involved with Dow Chemical, GM, General Electric, Nestle, Ford and PepsiCo. With all she has got somewhere but not so with Exxon Mobil.

Exxon Mobil made nearly $40 billion in profits in 2006, enough to keep its share price at around $85 per share, making it the most profitable American Corporation and having a market value greater than the national budget of France. Today however the trend is for corporations to at least try to engage with the wider concerns of corporate responsibility.

The trouble with Exxon Mobil is that it doesn’t even allow its own shareholders a say in much of the running of the business. Shareholder votes aren’t binding and most board directors are hand picked by management. There’s little chance therefore that environment protestors will get a look in. Daly however plods on and yet again she put forward her concerns at the most recent annual meeting.

This time Daly’s proposal received 31% of the ballots, about 1.4 billion shares, the largest number an Exxon Mobil climate change proposal had ever received. However with oil a national priority and with the Russians, Chinese, Indians and Brazilians all searching out new supplies for their own expanding economies, it’s doubtful companies like Exxon Mobil are going to change their stance on climate change anytime soon.

For other Energy related stories go to IHT Energy

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12 Responses to Exxon Mobil: oil vs God.

  1. the Grit says:

    Hi Matt,

    I suspect that you would find it difficult to make shareholders in such a profitable company care even if said income was being made from the torture of small children. On the other hand, I find it a stretch to see how it’s the responsibility of Exxon Mobile, or any other company, to take the vague theories of Global Warming into account in their corporate policy, except where they can be used to generate higher profits.

    On the other hand, if you have some inside information into a technology that has any chance of replacing oil products to fuel the world’s transportation needs, kindly let me know. Perhaps this time I can scrape up some money to invest in it, unlike the 70s when I decided to blow my money on beer instead of oil company stocks that I KNEW were going to make money!

    Excuse me, while I go bang my head against a wall.

    the Grit

  2. earthpal says:

    Hi Grit.

    Some shareholders care. Sister D has rallied support and is making people listen.

    ExxonMobi, unlike many of its peers, refuses to invest some of its humongous profits into cleaner energy and research. ExxonMobil should be leading the way here, not turning blind eyes to the realities and STILL funding the climate change denial industry!

    ExxonMobil is a major contributor to global warming. The company is making potloads of money. If it won’t budge, then it should be legislated against.

  3. matt says:

    By 2030 EM believes oil will make up 80% of the energy market. They are the biggest US corporation and their product basically keeps the US economy going. They therefore see no reason to change their stance. Their attitude is similar to the equally large tobacco giants … before they got sued.

  4. f0ul says:

    It is funny the double standards seen by eco protestors who are happy enough to accept the tax money created by the profits made by these companies but still complain about how the money was made.

    I would be interested to hear the reaction to the news that it seems 1934 was the hottest year of the 20th century, rather than 1998 – with the third year being 1921. Seems oil wasn’t such a big feature in everyone’s lives in those days, yet it still got hot.

    http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=8383

    If it turns out that oil isn’t responsible for global warming, will you be posting your apology to the oil companies on this site?

  5. matt says:

    Eco protestors are full of double standards as no doubt you yourself are and as is everyone, so no point proven there. Apologize to an oil company …. ha,ha,haaaaaaaaa!!

  6. earthpal says:

    It is funny the double standards seen by eco protestors who are happy enough to accept the tax money created by the profits made by these companies but still complain about how the money was made.”

    Well of course we are happy to accept the tax money – if it goes towards funding renewables. If the oil companies paid the correct amount of tax in accordance with the emissions they caused, they would go bankrupt!

  7. inel says:

    Dear f0ul,

    The reaction is all yours. Despite your glee, global warming is still happening. US scientists adjusted the relevant US figures, thanked and gave credit to the person who had queried the specific US data. The long term warming trend in the US and around the world continues. The changes to US climate data that you highlight are insignificant. Climate change, however, is very significant. Why not try highlighting that instead?

  8. matt says:

    Choosing a blog name ‘foul’ indicates a predisposition to foul intentions so, not really worth the time of day me thinks! 🙂

  9. the Grit says:

    Hi earthpal,

    While some people may base their investment decisions on feelings, most go strictly by what stocks make them the most money. That, after all, is the general idea behind investing.

    As to EM’s profits, they may be large now, but a few years ago they were tiny. Were you crying for them then, back when oil was less than $20 per barrel? I would also point out that they do invest considerable amounts of money into alternative energy research. Of course, as an evil corporation they are going to try and make a profit on their discoveries, which I am sure you will rant also about. As to EM being a major contributor to Global Warming, even if we accept that myth as truth for the sake of argument, their corporate activities contribute almost nothing. The use of their product, from your point of view, may have some significance. However, since I have yet to see a report where a representative of Exxon Mobile forced anyone to either buy or use their products, placing blame on them is really pretty foolish.

    Hi Matt,

    You say:

    “By 2030 EM believes oil will make up 80% of the energy market. They are the biggest US corporation and their product basically keeps the US economy going. They therefore see no reason to change their stance. Their attitude is similar to the equally large tobacco giants … before they got sued.”

    Which makes no sense. First, the tobacco industry was not vital to the US, and every other nation’s, economy. Even if the oil industry was sued and won a judgment in the Supreme Court that banned all use of petroleum products, either Congress would pass a Constitutional Amendment reversing that decision the next day, or we would have Civil War II. It’s highly unlikely that even a measurable percentage of the US population is in favor of returning to a hunter-gatherer society.

    On the other hand, if you have some knowledge of a viable replacement for fossil fuels, please let us know! Hell, the US would switch at a blinding pace, just so we could tell Hugo and the Arabs to kiss our collective butt, and I suspect that the EU, China, India, and just about everyone else would be racing us toward that goal. So, until such time, I would think that blaming a company which is distributing a needed product is not a productive use of anyone’s time.

    Well, I suppose it could make one feel better, a bit of stress relief and like that. Let me try.

    Al Gore is the biggest fat head in history! Global Warming is nothing but a hoax, and he’s using it to get rich! Why isn’t he contributing more to charity! Let’s tax him and anyone else who’s making money off this scam! That includes anyone who buys into the carbon credit scheme. How dare they flaunt their wealth in the face of the poor who can’t afford indulgences. Our Government better consider criminal charges and lengthy jail terms for these evil rich…

    My, that was nice. What were we discussing? Never mind; I’m going to go have a drink and pet my dogs.

    Hi again earthpal,

    You, surely, must know that corporations don’t pay taxes. Any increase in the cost of doing business is immediately passed along to the consumer. Well, if there is some constraint that prevents them from doing that, they either relocate to avoid it or go out of business due to competition from another company that doesn’t have the same burden. I would also point out that, at least in the US, there are no taxes on emissions, so the correct tax is zero. I would further point out that, since EM doesn’t actually burn their product, any emission tax would be directly placed on the consumer.

    As to warming trends, those don’t seem to apply to the US. We, it would seem, are still in a cooling phase dating back to 1934. This, considering that we, up until recently, spew more CO2 into the air than anyone else, and given the fact that, regardless of what the IPCC claims, CO2 is not evenly mixed in the atmosphere, should make anyone who believes in Global Warming take a serious second look at the subject.

    Hi Matt,

    Dang! I knew there was something we were forgetting when choosing blog names 🙂

    the Grit

    the Grit

  10. earthpal says:

    I would also point out that they do invest considerable amounts of money into alternative energy research.

    They do? Now why would they do that when they don’t believe renewables has a future – that it is merely “fashionable”? Surely, alternative energy research is a bad business investment if they don’t believe in it. What would the shareholders think about the oil-heads investing their money in stuff they don’t actually believe has any possiblity?

    *

    . . . their corporate activities contribute almost nothing.

    Rubbish! We all contribute to global warming and ExxonMobile has consistently been a huge contributor:
    http://www.foe.co.uk/cymru/english/press_releases/2004/exxonmobile_climate_change.html

    *

    Any increase in the cost of doing business is immediately passed along to the consumer.

    Of course – and so the consumer will use less hence less CO2 emissions. The idea is to tax oil companies more but award them financial incentives for investing in renewables and conservation efforts. Simple really.

    *

    since EM doesn’t actually burn their product, any emission tax would be directly placed on the consumer.

    I’m not totally sure what you mean here but I’m pretty sure EM needs to use energy for their operations, to proccess, transport and distribute their product and I’m pretty sure they would use their own product to do this . . . unless they know something we don’t about it.

  11. matt says:

    The cost of emission taxes would be passed on to consumers and they then make decisions according to their wallets (ie. affordabilty). If other options are around consumers will look into and possibly purchase those instead.

    As Grit rightly points out petroleum products are everywhere and alternatives by comparison at the moment are small beer. But believe you me smart businesses (including current oil companies) are right now investing some of their monies into alternatives, one example being solar. More on this in a post soon.

    Exxon Mobil has not yet realised the oil tanker is slowly turning away from its fields and towards the shipping of more and more renewables to global markets. Pressure is however building from very interesting sources, including so-called allies of EM;
    http://sev.prnewswire.com/oil-energy/20070517/DCTH03517052007-1.html

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