A protest led by 350Dallas will be held across from ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting in downtown Dallas on May 30. Photo courtesy of 350Dallas.

May 23, 2018

It’s time again for the only event that brings disharmony to Dallas’ Myerson Symphony Center – the annual ExxonMobil shareholder meeting and the protest it attracts. The convergence happens on May 30. 

Last year’s confab was counted a big win for activist shareholders, when their resolution asking Exxon to disclose climate risks to its business passed, 62 percent in favor. However, the victory proved empty. 

Exxon responded with its 2018 Energy and Carbon Summary, judged by experts to be “defective,”  “unsatisfactory” and “inadequate,” reported Cyrus Nemati of shareholder advocacy nonprofit As You Sow in March. “ExxonMobil shareholders have waited for over 25 years for the company to articulate climate-change financial risks to its business,” an energy economics institute pointed out, calling the report “defective and unresponsive to the shareholder resolution that prompted it.”

“…Give “no’ votes on one or all of the company’s proposed board of directors,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis urged shareholders. 

By 7:30 a.m. next Wednesday, activists from a dozen or more advocacy groups are set to throng the outdoor stage opposite the Myerson, displaying their signboard slogans to arriving shareholders and taking turns at the speaker’s podium. 

“It’s a platform for people who’ve had issues with Exxon’s behavior in communities of all kinds,” said Molly Rooke, cofounder of 350Dallas, the local affiliate of international climate action group 350.org and event lead sponsors. “Major media usually cover the business side and results of the shareholder ballot but give no [environmental] background.”

“Demonstrators will bring issues from the various groups participating. We’re all focusing on climate change. There’s also the risk to investors.”

Investors are concerned about “stranded assets,” that is, the portion of fossil fuel reserves that must remain in the ground, if worsening effects of climate disruption are to be avoided. Burning it all would blow past the global temperature targets under the Paris Agreement. Fossil fuel and related companies whose stranded assets aren’t reflected in company value could experience a sudden drop if market forces shift or those off-the-books risks are priced in. Investors want to know their risk and Exxon’s plan, if any, for adapting successfully to a market shifting with new renewable technology and to an emerging low carbon economy.  

More issues concern the groups supporting the demonstration. 

Exxon’s impact on communities is an important one, as Rooke mentioned. 

“I’m talking about the company’s behavior in communities where they operate, as well as communities with problems from Exxon’s refining and transportation, not only drilling. Then there are the front-line communities suffering from climate change.”

“People wouldn’t be out there at that early hour if they weren’t experiencing harm.”

Cosponsors/endorsers of the protest include 350 Dallas, Society of Native Nations, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, CodePink Dallas, Dallas Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk, Pax Christi Dallas, Our Revolution North Texas, Texas Drought Project, Veterans for Peace North Texas, Waco Friends of Peace and Climate, In Solidarity and System Change Not Climate Change.

Inside the meeting, shareholders will face a ballot with no environmental resolutions at all. 

“I have never seen a ballot with no environmental measures,” said Rooke, who has followed ExxonMobil and shareholder action since 2000. 

One was proposed. Exxon took it up with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which denied it.

“ExxonMobil successfully silenced shareholders when it asked the SEC to block As You Sow and Arjuna Capital’s ‘Low Carbon Business Model’ resolution,” blogged the spokesperson for the shareholder advocate and the sustainable investment fund in March, after the SEC decision. “The resolution asks the company to report on how it can adapt its business model to align with a decarbonizing economy by substantially reducing dependence on fossil fuels, including making greater investments in clean energy…ExxonMobil has withheld material information from share owners who have a vested interest in the company’s financial future.”

”Instead, Exxon has been given a free pass to continue business as usual in the face of unprecedented climate change,” Natasha Lamb, managing partner of Arjuna Capital, was quoted. 

The one shareholder measure indirectly related to environmental concerns that made it onto the 2018 ballot is from United Steelworkers, holders of 116 shares. It requests ExxonMobil to report annually on its wide array of lobbying efforts. Those include donations to federal, state and local election campaigns, trade association lobbying, grassroots lobbying publications and tax-free groups that draft and promote “model” legislation. American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC, is a powerful example of the last that has influenced Texas legislation.

The steelworkers’ resolution noted ExxonMobil has spent more than $94 million since 2010 on federal lobbying alone, and gave a total of $74 million in donations to three trade organizations that lobby for oil, gas and coal. 

Exxon opposes this resolution.

While shareholders indoors debate it, the demonstration outside will rally. By Rooke’s list, there will be “locals representing indigenous front-liners fighting pipelines and local front-line fossil fuel fighters in DFW,” notably Arlington most recently.  

“We're all pushing for divestment from fossil fuels and getting local cities to adopt renewable energy,” she said. 


ExxonMobile Shareholder Meeting Protest

About: A coalition of North Texas organizations will protest outside ExxonMobil's annual shareholder meeting. Cosponsors/endorsers of the protest include 350Dallas, Society of Native Nations, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, CodePink Dallas, Dallas Sierra Club, Downwinders at Risk, Pax Christi Dallas, Our Revolution North Texas, Texas Drought Project, Veterans for Peace North Texas, Waco Friends of Peace and Climate, In Solidarity and System Change Not Climate Change.

When: May 30, 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Where: Across from the Dallas Myerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St, Dallas


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