The Pagan Chieftan hath spoken and decided that Shell not only has to cut its own emissions nearly in half, it improbably, somehow, is responsible for its customers emissions too. Will Shell put photos of heatwave casualties with warning labels on oil cans: “This product may cause Tornadoes”?
By Sarah McFarlane and Christopher M. Matthews, Wall Street Journal
In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a Dutch court found that Shell is partially responsible for climate change, and ordered the company to sharply reduce its carbon emissions. Hours later in the U.S., an activist investor won at least two seats on Exxon’s board, a historic defeat for the oil giant that will likely require it to alter its fossil-fuel focused strategy.
The Shell ruling, issued by the district court in The Hague, found that Shell must curb its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels—and that the company was responsible not only for lowering its own direct emissions from drilling and other operations, but also those of the oil, gas and fuels eventually burned by consumers.
The target is in line with United Nations guidance …
Figure the kind of precedent this sets. It’s like consumers are babies who aren’t responsible for their own emissions. Like people who sell cars cause the road deaths and potato farmers need to make sure customers drink Vodka responsibly. Don’t pull too hard on this string or our civilization might unravel.
Shell was obeying all the laws made by governments elected by voters, but who cares about them? The unelected and unaccountable UN declared that oil raises the tide, and therefore a judge now sets national policy on energy, and tides.
Meanwhile Exxon become a kind of Transgender company — a company with an identity crisis.
The shareholders who bought Exxon because it made profits on oil and gas apparently voted (or enough of them did) to put two activists on the Board to make the oil giant invest in something other than oil. Whether two seats out of 12 can achieve much is a fair question but the company is already bleating about “getting the message from shareholders”.
Activists are very good at political games like winning board seats, but they won’t be good at making profits. So what’s next? Will the oil giants gradually grind down — effectively sabotaged into putting more money into loss making green ventures? That will increase the Green-Blob jobs market at the expense of shareholders, customers and tax revenue. But the world will still want fossil fuels. Will Shell or Exxon become hollowed out shells, transmogrifying into some other entity, while some other companies start up in the Cayman Islands to supply the oil instead? Will those companies be owned by Chinese or Iranian investors, will the tax dollars and jobs still go the USA or the Netherlands — or will a new empire of industrial giants rise up to replace the old ones led by CEOs who bow to no one and apologize for nothing?
Ultimately these companies were lost years ago when they stopped believing in what they sell
Both Shell and Exxon lost a lot of their branding and goodwill in the last 20 years. Even the shareholders don’t believe in Exxon any more, or not enough to fight for it. Exxon tried, but gave up the intellectual fight for oil and gas. Eventually it gave in to the bullies, and stopped pushing back against the fake science. Shell didn’t even fight. (Though they will appeal the court decision, they’re hardly taking up the battle to defend oil and gas, and real science.) The companies were already hollowed shells.
It took very few shares to push them over:
Exxon’s loss came at the hands of Engine No. 1, an upstart hedge fund owning only about 0.02% of the oil giant’s stock. It had waged an aggressive campaign challenging the company’s energy transition strategy and response to climate change, depicting it as a corporate dinosaur.
The vote at the company’s annual meeting capped a pitched, monthslong battle between the company and the activist to persuade Exxon shareholders, that turned into one of the most expensive proxy fights ever.
Engine No. 1 called for Exxon to gradually diversify its investments to be ready for a world that will need fewer fossil fuels in coming decades.
Exxon has spent millions on renewable energy research, but it doesn’t matter. Feeding the crocodile only makes it a bigger crocodile:
Exxon defended its strategy to expand drilling, saying demand for fuels and plastics will remain strong for years to come, and pointed to a new carbon capture and storage business unit as evidence it is taking climate change seriously.
The votes were leveraged by pension funds which invest money for people who mostly don’t vote nor spend their own money on “climate change”:
The hedge fund got a big boost from some of Exxon’s largest shareholders. BlackRock Inc. backed three of Engine No. 1’s candidates, and some of the largest U.S. pension funds also supported the activist’s slate.
Asset managers are, themselves, under pressure to exert influence on their portfolio companies…
Once upon a time companies were run by and for shareholders?
Marvel at how the tail wags the dog. In Australia a little committee called ASCI parasitically creams $4m a year off big companies who pay a tithe to them to be a member in order to get a badge to shield them from climate bullies or something. But then ASCI uses that money to isolate and harrass individual directors and bully them into submission or oust them in votes.
These industrial giants like Exxon are a microcosm for the West in so many ways. They’ve forgotten their reason for being, then got set upon by white ants while tens of thousands of sleeping consumers, employees and shareholders have wealth and opportunity quietly eaten away.
Shell and Exxon are not dead yet, but what will stop the trainwreck?
May 27, 2021