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Shareholders Weigh 'Green' Measures Reinforced by Environmental Groups; Brief Article; Statistical Data Included

April 30, 2001

Copyright 2001 Business Publishers, Inc.
Air/Water Pollution Report

In response to mounting pressure to be more environmentally responsible, shareholders from 76 corporations are turning up the heat by proposing resolutions to improve corporate environmental policies, and green groups are stoking the embers.

Shareholders of Chevron and ExxonMobil have proposed reporting on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and those of ExxonMobil also would like a review of the controversial Chad-Cameroon pipeline project (AWPR, June 12, 2000, p. 210).

Investors in Allegheny Energy, Chevron, CSX, Eastman Chemical and Norfolk Southern are proposing the companies disclose to shareholders the amount of greenhouse gases they emit. Meanwhile, those from BP Amoco, Constellation Energy Group, Duke Power, Exelon, ExxonMobil, Progress Energy and Southern Co. are pushing for more investment in alternative and renewable energy.

BP Amoco Shareholders Chime In

Despite the pressure, BP Amoco shareholders by a vote of 11,042,513,760 to 887,208,387, on April 19 defeated a resolution that would have directed the company to phase out fossil-fuel sales.

It also called on BP Amoco to establish a timetable for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that includes steps to boost renewable energy investment (AWPR, April 16, p. 127).

Although the effort was defeated, Greenpeace spokesperson Stephanie Tunmore noted the percentage of votes (8.03 percent) that favored it. "BP ... can no longer ignore its own shareholders' conviction that the company is responsible for climate change and that this could undermine the future worth of their shares" (AWPR, March 26, p. 103).

Petroleum Companies Face Boycott

Aside from the resolutions, U.S.-based petroleum companies are facing possible boycotts in the aftermath of the Bush administration's rebuff of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. "We are calling for a boycott of the American oil companies," said Arnold Cassola, secretary general of the European Federation of Green Parties (EFGP) at the first international Greens Party conference recently held in Canberra, Australia. "This year's shareholder resolutions give investors a way to turn down the heat on ExxonMobil; they give investors a choice between losing money to a boycott or investing money in solutions," said Peter Altman, spokesperson for Campaign ExxonMobil -- a coalition of environmental and religious groups urging the company to become more environmentally friendly.

Corporate Climate Clarifications

Shortly after the call for a boycott, ExxonMobil released a statement on climate change to reiterate and clarify the company's position, ExxonMobil Vice President for Safety, Health, and the Environment Frank Sprow said. The company urges "moving beyond the highly-politicized Kyoto Protocol" to an "international climate policy" and encourages voluntary actions such as making businesses and residences more energy efficient and protecting forests for carbon storage.

The company's statement also said ExxonMobil is promoting technology transfer, scientific research, assessments of renewable energy "barriers" and research on "promising long-term technological options that could significantly reduce future [greenhouse gas] emissions."

"These proposals are designed to avoid regulatory straitjackets and invite participation by all nations." Sprow said. "Because they are flexible, policies can change as experience and knowledge are gained." Sprow added that "it is essential to move from [the Kyoto Protocol] to practical and politically attainable approaches that recognize the need for affordable energy in our daily lives."

Other Resolutions

Other environmentally responsible resolutions include: adopting a comprehensive recycling strategy in Coca Cola and PepsiCo; phasing out PVC in Tyco; disclosing costs of the PCB clean up delay in General Electric; and adopting a non-toxic chemical policy in Chevron.

Contacts: ExxonMobil, (972) 444-1107, Stephanie Tunmore; Greenpeace, 011-44-20-7865-8211; Peter Altman, Campaign ExxonMobil, (512) 479-0355; Marian Coyne, EFGP, 011-32-2-284-51-35, e-mail: efgp@europarl.eu.int.

Copyright 2001 Business Publishers, Inc.
Air/Water Pollution Report
April 30, 2001

SECTION: No. 17, Vol. 39; Pg. 135 ; ISSN: 1098-8041
IAC-ACC-NO: 74454353

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