May 28, 2020 - Energy & Environment

BlackRock pushes U.S. oil majors harder on climate change efforts

Illustration of someone holding a sign.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Investment behemoth BlackRock is using its shares to push U.S. oil majors harder on climate, efforts that come months after BlackRock joined the advocacy group Climate Action 100+ and announced a new sustainability strategy.

Driving the news: BlackRock, citing concerns about Exxon's climate posture, yesterday voted against re-election of two members of Exxon's board and in favor of a resolution to create an independent board chair.

  • However, the members were re-elected and the push for an independent chair failed.

Why it matters: The votes nonetheless represent an escalation of BlackRock's push for Exxon to do more at a time when European-based majors are more active than their U.S. peers.

One level deeper: Yesterday BlackRock also used its shares to help pass a resolution, against the recommendation of Chevron's management, that prods the company to reveal more about its climate-related lobbying.

  • BlackRock cited the need for "greater transparency" into Chevron's approach, noting that Chevron says it backs the Paris climate deal.
  • More transparency "will help articulate consistency between private and public messaging in the context of managing climate risk and the transition to a lower-carbon economy," BlackRock said.

What they're saying: The shareholder advocacy group Majority Action, in a statement on the Exxon and Chevron votes, said BlackRock's vote at Chevron's meeting "was decisive in swinging the result to majority support."

But, but, but: "While these votes are important steps towards BlackRock fulfilling its new climate commitments, they do not constitute anywhere near the scale of overhaul BlackRock must undertake to systematically address climate risk across its outsized holdings," the group said.

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