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Royal Dutch Shell said it's quitting a major lobbying group, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

These are split-screen times for shareholder advocates pushing the world's most powerful oil companies to do more on global warming.

Driving the news: Axios' Amy Harder reported yesterday that the SEC granted ExxonMobil's request to throw out a shareholder resolution urging the oil giant to disclose targets for steeply cutting emissions.

The intrigue: Her story landed just hours after Royal Dutch Shell said it's quitting a major lobbying group, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, over differences on climate policy.

  • It's a move stemming from a review of trade group memberships, which Shell agreed to conduct in a wider agreement with activist investors late last year.

The bottom line: The developments highlight successes and hurdles facing activists seeking to use investors' stakes as leverage to force more aggressive steps on emissions and disclosure.

What's next: In the Exxon fight, the group shareholder advocacy group Ceres said yesterday evening that they're looking at several options after the SEC decision.

What they're saying: Ceres' Andrew Logan said in a statement that the investors behind the resolution will "make full use of their suite of rights." In a followup email, he told me they are mulling options, including...

  • Asking the SEC for reconsideration or even taking them to court.
  • Corralling support behind other proposals on the ballot for Exxon's annual meeting, such as one pushing for a climate committee on the board.
  • "Expressing displeasure" with Exxon's board by voting against re-election of one or more members.
  • Nominating alternative director candidates in 2020.

The big picture: Let's turn back to Shell's action. There's an argument that yesterday's splashy move really just affirmed the status quo.

  • Yes, sure, they dumped one trade group, but stuck with bigger ones — including the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — that aren't that different from AFPM on climate policy.

But, but, but: Jason Bordoff, head of a Columbia University energy think tank, said via Twitter that Shell's move is "just the beginning" and that he sees it spilling over into API, the industry's main lobbying group.

  • "The differences among API members on the key issue of climate are vast. That's going to reach a breaking point," he tweeted.
  • I asked Bordoff to elaborate, and he added in an email, "I think API is going to have increasing difficulty sustaining its coalition in its current form unless it is able to build more consensus among its members about what a constructive role for the oil and gas industry looks like to address climate change."

Go deeper: SEC throws out investor proposal pushing Exxon on climate change

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."