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‘Wolf pack’ attack win opens the door for more turmoil


‘Wolf pack’ attack win opens the door for more turmoil

June 1, 2021: The success of the activist shareholder assault on the Exxon board last week, along with a court ruling ordering Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions faster than planned and a majority of Chevron shareholders voting for a reduction in its “scope three” emissions have been depicted as victories for climate activists.

While the Shell decision clearly fits into that category (although it will appeal) and Chevron probably also squeezes in, the Exxon experience isn’t quite as clear cut and illustrates the confusion and conflict, for companies and investors, that flow from the increasing aggression and impact of environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds.

With the support of some of the world’s largest investors – BlackRock, Calpers, Calstrs, the New York Common Retirement Fund, Legal & General, the Anglican Church, and others – and armed with recommendations from the two most influential proxy advisers, Engine No. 1 succeeded in having two of its four nominees elected to the Exxon board.


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