Shareholders of oil company Exxon have rejected resolutions submitted by Dominican Sisters in the United States which would have required the company to adopt formal greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The International Herald Tribune reports the shareholders rejected a series of resolutions calling on the company to bar its chief executive officer from serving as chairman and to adopt greenhouse-gas reduction targets.
A proposal to split the roles of chief executive and chairman received 39.5 percent at the annual meeting in Dallas, less than the 50 percent required to force directors to reconsider their opposition.
Initiatives to set pollution-reduction goals for Exxon Mobil refineries and to hold nonbinding shareholder votes on executive pay also failed.
The chief executive, Rex Tillerson, prevailed over efforts by descendants of company founder John D. Rockefeller, the California Public Employees Retirement System and New York City Comptroller William Thompson to curb his influence and speed action by the company to combat global warming.
"This is much hullabaloo over something other than what everybody should be talking about," Lizanne Thomas, who heads the corporate governance practice at the law firm Jones Day, said during an interview.
"The real goal here seems to be to make sure some of that profit is devoted to green causes, but splitting the chairman and CEO doesn't do that."
Tillerson led the company to a $40.6 billion profit in 2007, surpassing its own previous record for annual net income by a US corporation set a year earlier.
The company, which pumps more oil than every member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries except Saudi Arabia and Iran, was pressured by pension funds, religious orders, state treasurers and environmental groups in the weeks leading up to Wedneday's meeting, the Tribune says.
Tillerson has also engaged critics from the Sierra Club in discussions on global warming, a reversal of his predecessor Lee Raymond's approach.
About 20 activists from Greenpeace and other groups gathered in front of the symphony hall holding a banner that said "Oil: The New Black Death."
Exxon shareholders reject splitting chief's role (International Herald Tribune, 28/5/08)
Exxon Corporation (Wikipedia)