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!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

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!

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!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

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!

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

A record number of investors are pressuring fossil-fuel companies to reveal how climate change could hit their bottom lines.

Efforts by shareholders to push resolutions on the risk related to carbon regulations are reaching a tipping point, with almost half of investors in fossil-fuel and utility companies backing resolutions, according to a new analysis by nonprofit group Ceres not yet published publicly. Activist shareholders of publicly traded companies have been pushing resolutions on climate change for years and now the effort is going mainstream with new support from institutional investors.

Why it matters: With the U.S. government retreating on climate policy under the leadership of President Trump, corporate America is emerging as the central battleground. The increased support for climate-related resolutions show that mainstream investors are taking the issue more seriously than ever despite Trump.

"Investment risk is increasing, and investors care – not because they believe or don't believe in climate change – but because they care about the value of their investments," said Kevin Book, managing director of the independent research firm ClearView Energy Partners. "The issue doesn't go away just because Trump came to Washington."

Shareholders of publicly traded companies cast votes every spring on resolutions of all kinds, including on climate change. The resolutions Ceres analyzed, which saw an average of 45% support this year, asked companies to report regularly on what kind of impact regulations cutting carbon emissions would have on their operations. The percentage in favor is up from just 21% in 2014 and 34% last year.

Notable votes

Resolutions by shareholders of ExxonMobil, Occidental Petroleum and utility PPL Corporation saw the most striking increase in support, passing the 50% threshold for the first time.

BlackRock, the largest investment firm in the world, said it backed the climate resolutions at Exxon and Occidental — a first for the investor — because the companies weren't addressing the issue enough. "Our patience is not infinite," the firm wrote in a note outlining its engagement strategies with companies for this year and next, which includes climate change.

Out of 16 votes cast by shareholders of utility and fossil-fuel companies this year on carbon risk resolutions, just two decreased (slightly) from last year: Noble Energy, from 25% to 24%, and power company AES Corporation, where the vote dropped from 42% to 40%, according to data tracked by Ceres. Here are highlights of support for carbon-related shareholder resolutions:

Expand chart

Data: Ceres. Figures rounded to nearest whole percentage; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Symbolism matters: The resolutions aren't binding and have no legal force, but that doesn't make them empty proposals. Occidental said it would provide more disclosure about how it manages climate risk, and while Exxon hasn't said so as explicitly, there's an expectation it will, according to interviews with industry officials familiar with the process.

"Sometimes it takes these symbolic kind of gestures to prompt actual change," said Michael Ferguson, director of U.S. energy infrastructure at S&P Global Ratings, one of the world's biggest credit rating agencies. "I don't think shareholders see climate as a fleeting issue, so even if these resolutions aren't binding for the moment, policies are going to shift."

The concern for climate change is spreading to ratings agencies, which influence how investors assess companies. Moody's Investors Service announced in June 2016 it would consider the carbon-reduction pledges in the Paris climate deal when it rates fossil-fuel companies, and it has been issuing reports on the risk since the climate deal was struck in November 2015. An executive at another major credit agency, Fitch Ratings, said that firm is now discussing to what extent to consider carbon risk more explicitly in its processes.

To be sure, by repealing Obama-era regulations on climate change and withdrawing from the Paris deal, Trump is taking away explicit policies for credit agencies to use in their ratings.

"To the extent that climate change policies become a reality and something that's deeply entrenched, it's something we have to consider more explicitly," Ferguson said.

What's next? Investors, including BlackRock and Vanguard Group, two of the world's biggest investment firms, are set to issue reports by the end of August explaining how and why they voted on proposals.

Andrew Logan, director of oil and gas at Ceres, said the ultimate goal of these symbolic resolutions is to show fossil-fuel based companies their current investments won't work in a carbon-constrained world.

"The end game is to make the changes they need in their business plans so when a low-carbon future arrives, they'll be ready for it," Logan said.

Like Harder Line? Sign up for Generate, the Axios daily energy newsletter, to get this and more energy news in your inbox.

Scheduling note: Harder Line is taking a break next Monday during the week of July 4.

Go deeper

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

7 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.