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Expand chart
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

A very public battle is raging over how ExxonMobil should face questions about long-term oil demand and prepare for a carbon-constrained world.

Driving the news: Investment group Engine No. 1, which is nominating board members it says are equipped to deal with these dynamics, this week gained new support.

  • Two huge pension funds — California Public Employees' Retirement System and the New York State Common Retirement Fund — have thrown their weight behind it.
  • It adds to prior backing from the California State Teachers' Retirement System, so now, per Pensions & Investments, the country's three largest pension funds back the effort.

Why it matters: The unusually high-profile shareholder battle is something of a microcosm of larger questions about the future of Big Oil.

  • But it's also specific to Exxon, one of the world's most powerful companies, which has not sought to diversify as widely as its European peers (though oil-and-gas remains the dominant business for all of them).

What they're saying: Engine No. 1, in an 81-page presentation posted this week, says Exxon has "significantly underperformed and has failed to adjust its strategy to enhance long-term value."

  • The slide deck argues that Exxon has long lagged behind its Big Oil peers by multiple metrics of investor returns.

The other side: Exxon, which has seen significant share price recovery over the last six months, has been striking back against the claims that it's poorly positioned and underperforming.

  • Exxon yesterday posted its own detailed slide deck laying out the case for why its strategy will provide long-term value.
  • It's the latest of recent moves including new board additions and vowing new emissions intensity cuts.
  • The presentation delves into its investments in carbon capture while arguing that Exxon is well-poised to deliver strong returns in oil-and-gas, which it notes will remain immense markets for decades despite low-carbon energy growth.
  • And one of its new board members, Jeff Ubben, defended Exxon's climate strategy in an interview with the Financial Times.

What's next: It comes to a head at Exxon's May 26 shareholder meeting. Reuters reports that the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, which has pushed Exxon to change its approach, now intends to vote with the company.

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Aug 4, 2021 - Economy & Business

Debt investors retreat from funding dirty energy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Banks are coming under fire from all sides for their role in funding fossil fuel companies, even though most have pledged to pull back over the coming decades.

What's happening: Despite pressure from activists, shareholders and Democratic politicians to finally divest from carbon-spewing businesses as the planet warms, the biggest American banks are still energetically backing dirty energy.

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker