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Exxon Mobil shareholders overwhelmingly pass climate change risk disclosure proposal

Exxon Mobil shareholders voted in favor of a climate change risk disclosure proposal at the company's annual meeting Wednesday.

The non-binding proposal, filed by the $322.3 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and $192 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, among other investors, was supported by 62.3% of shareholders at the meeting, up from the 38.2% support it received last year.

The proposal called for the oil and gas company to evaluate and disclose the viability of its portfolio under the 2-degrees scenario, the concept of limiting the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

The $206.5 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento; $170.6 billion New York City Retirement Systems; C$316.7 billion ($235.4 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto; $189.4 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee; $133.2 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin; and the C$175.6 billion Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto, also supported the measure.

“Today, we're on our way to a sustainable, low-carbon future — it's inevitable. Yet, Exxon Mobil has ignored investors' concerns about climate change for too long. Today's vote sends a clear message — the Exxon board needs to take a hard look today at what a greener tomorrow looks like. Continuing to rebuff investors is no longer an option,” said Scott M. Stringer, New York City comptroller and fiduciary for the New York City pension funds, in an emailed statement.

"This win is a major sign of progress," said Anne Simpson, CalPERS' investment director of sustainability, in a news release. "Shareholders have made it clear that they understand the risk that climate change represents to the business. It is now up to Exxon to integrate the climate risk reporting into practice."

An Exxon spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. The company had recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.