State Treasurer Beth Pearce Notes Progress as ExxonMobil Shareholders Call for Climate Action
MONTPELIER, Vt.— At ExxonMobil Corporation’s May 31 annual meeting a majority of shareholders, including Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce and the Vermont Pension Investment Committee (VPIC), voted to support a resolution urging ExxonMobil to act to address climate change. The successful action comes after repeated actions by Treasurer Pearce and VPIC to urge greater transparency and disclosure about exposure to carbon risk.
“I want to thank those states and entities who co-filed with Vermont to send a strong message that climate change is real and that responsible investors demand action to reach a low-carbon future,” said Treasurer Pearce. “Climate change poses a major threat to the profitability of energy companies. As a fiduciary, my first goal is to protect and safeguard the assets of Vermonters. Publicly traded energy companies like ExxonMobil should analyze their exposure to carbon risk and disclose how they are adjusting their business practices to respond to climate change.”
The successful resolution was led by the New York State pension fund and the Church of England. The combined value of institutions supporting the resolution represented over $5 trillion in assets. The VPIC oversees the management of approximately $4 billion in pension assets for the Vermont Retirement System. Treasurer Pearce is a member of the Committee and serves as its Vice Chair.
“In light of President Trump’s actions to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, it is hopeful that ExxonMobil’s shareholders have voted to address climate change,” said Robb Kidd, the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Conservation Program Manager, “I commend Treasurer Pearce’s shareholder engagement advocacy. Her persistence has come to fruition. Advocates and investors are leading the call for a low-carbon future.”
VPIC’s co-filing effort expands on a decade of climate-related shareholder engagement by the Vermont State Treasurer’s Office. VPIC or the State Treasurer have co-filed a number of resolutions to urge energy companies to increase disclosure and transition to low-carbon business plans. In 2013, VPIC joined with over 70 global investors to call for the world’s top oil and gas, coal and electric power companies to analyze the impact of continued investment in fossil fuels. VPIC acted in 2015 to urge ExxonMobil to adopt greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
“We need a clear understanding of how climate change could impact our investments. As State Treasurer, I will continue to push for action to ensure Vermonters’ assets are positioned for the future,” Treasurer Pearce concluded.
The Vermont State Treasurer’s Office is a founding member of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), and the Carbon Asset Risk (CAR) campaign, both of which comprise institutional investors working to address climate change. A group of CAR members, including Treasurer Pearce, will meet this month to discuss next steps for shareholder engagement.