ExxonMobil Corp.'s independent directors are being asked to discuss the financial impact of climate change with a group of leaders from 17 major pension funds and other institutional investors, including the $209 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the $23 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Hartford.
"We are interested in discussing with board members on the Public Policy Committee your plans to manage the transformation of ExxonMobil from a 20th century oil company to a company that will meet the world's energy demands within carbon constraints in the 21st century," stated a letter that the group sent to Michael J. Boskin, director and chairman of the public issues policy committee of the board of the Irving, Texas-based company.
"We're not asking ExxonMobil to get out of the oil and gas business, but the concern with the imperative of climate change and the world reaction to it will change nature of oil industry," Donald Kirshbaum, investment officer for policy for the Connecticut treasurer's office, said at a teleconference May 18.
"We are not interested in divesting" on climate change concerns, Mr. Kirshbaum said; instead, Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, sole trustee of the Connecticut fund, "is interested in working with companies in which we invest to enhance the value of our shares."
ExxonMobil is setting up a meeting in July with members of the group and management, but not directors, to discuss these issues, Dave Gardner, media relations advisor, responded in a statement.
"It is our opinion that the most productive way forward is for the group to meet with management," Mr. Gardner said.
"We acknowledge that issues associated with climate are important and warrant thoughtful deliberation and action," he said. "In part, our position includes the fact that we recognize that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere poses risks that may prove significant for society and ecosystems. We believe that these risks justify actions now, but the selection of actions must consider the uncertainties that remain," he added.
Mr. Kirshbaum said the group agreed to meet in July with Exxon Mobil management but is still seeking a meeting with directors.