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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.

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Aug 6, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Coronavirus hastens Big Oil's Atlantic divide on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic is accelerating a divide between European and American oil companies over climate change and clean energy.

Why it matters: Bottom lines and investor returns will be vastly different across the corporate spectrum depending on how aggressively the world tackles climate change in the coming decades.

S.C. governor orders end to federal COVID-related unemployment benefits

Photo: Micah Green/Bloomberg via Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday ordered the termination of the state's participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs.

Driving the news: McMaster cited labor shortages, but some experts say it's the job climate and not unemployment benefits that is determining the pace at which people are returning to work.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 mins ago - World

Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration surprised the world last night by coming out in favor of waiving patents for coronavirus vaccines — but Europe is divided on the issue.

What they're saying: European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said Brussels would be willing to discuss it; French President Emmanuel Macron said he backed the U.S. position, but a German government spokesman said the proposal would cause "severe complications" for vaccine production.

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