Jan 22, 2024 - Energy & Environment

ExxonMobil sues activist investors in new ESG fight

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ExxonMobil Corp. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

ExxonMobil is suing activist investors to thwart a proposed shareholder resolution that calls on the oil giant to set more aggressive emissions-cutting targets.

Why it matters: The lawsuit is the first time Exxon has filed litigation to prevent a shareholder resolution, the company confirmed to Axios (which Reuters first reported).

The big picture: The case, filed in a Texas federal district court, is an unusual effort to deter a shareholder campaign, rather than appealing to the SEC on a given resolution.

State of play: Exxon is suing Arjuna Capital and the shareholder advocacy group Follow This. It alleges an "extreme agenda" that looks to "force ExxonMobil to change the nature of its ordinary business or to go out of business entirely."

The intrigue: The resolution includes a call to set targets for "scope 3" emissions from broad use of Exxon's products. The company has targets for operational emissions and energy that powers them, but not scope 3.

The other side: "With this remarkable step, ExxonMobil clearly wants to prevent shareholders [from] using their rights," Mark van Baal of Follow This said in a statement (The Wall Street Journal has more).

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