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Extinction Rebellion climate activists protest on Wall Street in October. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

A pair of events over the past few days offers a preview of upcoming investor efforts to push some of the world's largest companies to get more active on global warming.

Why it matters: Shareholder pressure is becoming an increasingly important driver of corporate decision-making at a time when national governments' political will on climate is uneven at best.

Driving the news, part 1: As we wrote yesterday, banking giant Goldman Sachs says it won't directly finance Arctic oil exploration or new coal-fired power plants anywhere, among other revisions to its climate policies.

  • Environmentalists say Goldman should go further, but nonetheless say this is at least more aggressive than any other U.S. bank.
  • What's next: Look for activist shareholders and environmentalists to use Goldman's move as a way to enhance pressure on other big U.S.-based banks. That's the word I got when I touched base yesterday with two groups active in this space: Ceres and As You Sow.
  • Ceres' Dan Saccardi points out that banks pay close attention to their peers. "We'll continue to use leading peer action, such as Goldman's most recent policy, along with investor and other stakeholder input, to help them align with the level of ambition needed to meet the Paris Agreement."
  • As You Sow's Danielle Fugere notes that while Goldman's action is one "important indicator" of progress, they will be looking for all U.S. banks"to measure, monitor, set targets for, and to begin reducing their financed carbon emissions in line with Paris goals."

Driving the news, part 2: Shareholder efforts to push Big Oil to significantly bolster its climate commitments to align with the Paris climate agreement in 2020 are coming into focus.

  • Follow This, a European shareholder group, is expanding its climate-focused resolution effort to include U.S.-based major ExxonMobil and Chevron, in addition to BP, Shell and Equinor.
  • The resolutions announced this week include a push for targets for so-called Scope 3 emissions, that is, CO2 emitted from use of the companies' products in the economy. Reuters has more.
  • Separately, a coalition of As You Sow, the Church of England's investment managers and others yesterday announced shareholder resolutions targeting Exxon and Chevron.

What we're watching: It'll be interesting to see which of these might up for a vote, given the ability of U.S. companies to petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission to thwart them.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.