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Houston Chronicle: Pension fund angry over climate strategy: Major investors want director ousted from board

May 30, 2007, 1:48AM
By JOE CARROLL
Bloomberg News

Pension fund angry over climate strategy The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the U.S., is seeking the removal of Exxon Mobil Corp. director Michael Boskin over the company’s strategy on climate change.

Calpers joined two dozen other institutional investors to oppose the reappointment of Boskin, who heads the board’s public issues committee, at Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting today in Dallas.

Boskin has refused to meet with investors to discuss Exxon Mobil’s strategy on the issue, Calpers and Ceres, a coalition of environmentalists and investors, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, is lagging behind competitors in addressing global warming, the statement said.

Chevron Corp. is spending more on renewable fuels, and ConocoPhillips moved ahead of Exxon Mobil earlier this year when it joined an industry group that backs mandatory U.S. limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that warm the Earth, according to critics.

“Exxon Mobil’s inaction on global warming stands in stark contrast to industry peers such as BP, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, which are all beginning to manage the risks and seize opportunities from climate change,” Mindy Lubber, the president of Boston-based Ceres, said in the statement.

Royal Dutch Shell and BP are the two biggest European oil companies, while Chevron and ConocoPhillips are the second- and third-largest U.S.-based energy producers.

Since late 2005, Boskin has refused five times to meet with investors on the climate issue, according to the statement.

Directors should be accessible to shareholders and management should be accountable to directors, Calpers Chief Investment Officer Russell Read said in the statement.

“We have a fundamental problem when directors refuse to meet with the people they’re elected to represent,” Read said. “Especially one who has a leading role on a company’s board.”

Boskin, 61, is a professor of economics at Stanford University and a former chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Gantt Walton said that Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson has been designated to speak on behalf of the directors on climate change issues.

“He meets with shareholder groups quite frequently,” Walton said. Investors “have a lot of access to the company and to the board’s position.”

Comments:

What do you prefer? Oil giants such as Shell and BP who pretend to care about the environment and climate change while continuing to pollute the planet, or the more straight-forward approach of Exxon Mobil which doesn’t mind everyone knowing that it doesn’t give a toss. The bottom line is the same for all fat cat executives of Big Oil. One word: Profit.

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