Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo Illustration: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Exxon shareholders, bucking company management, voted to install at least two new members to the oil giant's board in a push to make Exxon more aggressive on addressing climate change and more disciplined in its oil investments.

Why it matters: Exxon management campaigned strongly against the entire slate of four people nominated by Engine No. 1, the activist investment group whose campaign was backed by several major pension funds.

  • The election of two of the four would avoid what could have been a categorical rebuke of the oil giant's strategy, but it still represents significant investor dissent.
  • The vote in favor of the two new board members shows that many investors see Exxon, which has had a rocky financial performance in recent years, as poorly positioned for the future.

Driving the news: Shareholders voted to add Gregory Goff and Kaisa Hietala at the oil giant's annual meeting Wednesday, Exxon said at the conclusion of voting. Tabulations on other candidates are still pending, though one of the Engine No. 1 candidates was voted down, Exxon stated in a press release. It's possible that one other activist candidate will still prevail.

  • Hietala is a a former renewables executive with the refining company Neste and Goff is the former CEO of the refiner Andeavor.

What they're saying: Charlie Penner, one of Engine No. 1's leaders, told shareholders at the meeting that Exxon management is "determined to fight off the future for as long as possible," but added: "change is coming."

The big picture: The battle over replacing members of Exxon's 13-person board comes amid increasing pressure on oil majors to do more on climate change.

  • European-based multinational giants are diversifying more widely and vowing long-term transformations to "net-zero" emissions companies by 2050.
  • Engine No. 1 also says Exxon lacks "any serious diversification efforts" that will prepare it to thrive in a low-carbon world. The group says Exxon needs a more cautious investment approach around oil and gas.
  • Engine No. 1's candidates won the backing of some of the company's largest shareholders, including BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.

Yes, but: Exxon says it's in step with the evolving energy mix, citing growing emphasis on carbon capture and large market opportunities there, and efforts on hydrogen and biofuels.

  • Exxon also argues its adjusted capital strategy will deliver strong returns in oil and gas, which it notes will remain huge markets for decades despite low-carbon energy growth.
  • The company recently set new near- and medium-term targets to cut emissions intensity (that is, emissions per unit of output), but has eschewed the long-term carbon neutrality vows of its European peers.
  • “ExxonMobil is in a strong position to create differentiating value throughout the energy transition,” CEO Darren Woods said, touting Exxon's oil-and-gas portfolio and its investment in climate technologies.
  • "We welcome the new directors Gregory Goff in Kaisha Hietala to the board and look forward to working with them constructively and collectively on behalf of all shareholders," Woods said.

Go deeper: The intensifying battle for Exxon's future

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
May 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Exxon pledging to add directors ahead of showdown with activist investors

Vehicles refueling at an Exxon Mobil Corp. gas station in Houston, Texas, in October 2020. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Exxon is pledging more board additions ahead of a showdown with activist investors pressing for more aggressive moves on climate change and capital discipline on oil development.

Why it matters: The move comes just ahead of Wednesday's annual meeting, when shareholders will vote on whether to approve four board members nominated by the investment group Engine No. 1.

Dutch court orders Shell to cut its emissions in landmark ruling

A Royal Dutch Shell Plc logo on a fence at the Shell Pernis refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Shell reports first quarter earnings on April 29. (Peter Boer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a precedent-setting ruling, a Dutch court ruled Wednesday in favor of environmentalists and more than 17,000 residents of the Netherlands, by ordering Royal Dutch Shell to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases.

Why it matters: It’s the first court ruling that orders a major oil company to make its emissions plans more consistent with Paris Climate Agreement targets, and it could spur legal action against other oil and gas firms.

Fighting global warming means reshaping finance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world's growing efforts to limit climate change will have far-reaching impacts for financial markets, and the groundwork for that push is being laid right now.

Why it matters: As more governments implement climate change regulations, trillions of dollars are going to flow towards clean energy and climate-friendly technologies, affecting significant portions of the global financial industry.