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ExxonMobil Fails to Block Climate Justice Proposal at the SEC

Faith-Based Shareholders Force Vote at ExxonMobil on Moral Imperative of Limiting Global Warming to 2 Degrees Celsius

New York, NY, Thursday, March 24, 2016 – As a result of an SEC ruling yesterday, for the first time ExxonMobil shareholders will grapple with the moral and justice implications of climate change, as related to the company’s business.

After ExxonMobil challenged a series of climate-related shareholder proposals including one proposed by faith-based investors asking ExxonMobil to acknowledge the moral imperative to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, this year the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that these resolutions must appear on the annual proxy statement forcing a vote by shareholders at the annual meeting on May 25th .

The SEC’s decision is a victory for the resolution’s faith-based proponents and members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility who have pressed Exxon for decades to adapt its business to address the dire impacts of climate change on global communities.

Said Sister Patricia Daly, OP, of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, NJ, the lead filer of the resolution, “This year’s Holy Days are celebrated in the midst of violence and ecological turmoil. As people of faith attempt to respond to the needs of the world, it is critical and timely that our call for ExxonMobil to acknowledge the moral imperative of limiting global warming to 2˚C will go to their shareholders for consideration. ExxonMobil and its shareholders now face a choice: acknowledge the untold suffering that climate change will cause and work towards solutions, or remain willfully blind to the impacts of their ‘business as usual’ approach.”

It is widely acknowledged in the scientific community that global warming must not exceed 2˚C above pre-industrial levels if the worst impacts of climate change are to be avoided. Indeed, this decision from the SEC comes only days after the release of a new study from 19 leading climate scientists, including James Hansen, warning that catastrophic impacts may occur even if warming is limited to 2˚C.

The resolution, coordinated by the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, was filed by 34 institutional investors representing a cross-section of faith-based investors, health systems, socially responsible asset management firms and indigenous and community groups. In its "No Action" challenge to the SEC, ExxonMobil claimed that the proposal's request is "vague" and that it "has been substantially implemented" as grounds for omitting it from its proxy statement. Shareholders argued that the resolution is clear and specific, and that the company has not met the principle request of the proposal. With the SEC's decision, shareholders will now have the opportunity to vote on Exxon's moral responsibilities on climate change.

“The moral responsibility to acknowledge the impacts of human dependence on fossil fuels and take action remains an urgent priority for all, none more so than the producers of these fuels. In asking ExxonMobil to acknowledge the imperative of limiting global warming to 2˚C, this resolution seeks to bring Exxon in line with the consensus of over 190 nations, which adopted this goal in the Paris Climate Agreement this past December, as well as the numerous oil and gas companies that have expressed support for the 2˚C target. We strongly encourage all shareholders to support the resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual general meeting on May 25th ,” urged Sister Patricia Daly.

PDF of press release available here.

Tri-CRI Meets with Cardinal Peter Turkson

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who was the primary author of Laudato Si', was in New York this month and we were pleased to have the opportunity to not only, see him speak, but also meet with him.  He was the keynote speaker at a session entitled “Catholics, Capitalism, and the Climate,” at Molloy College on February 17th. In our meeting with Cardinal Turkson, we shared the work of the Tri-State Coalition and Catholic institutions, along with ICCR, in great depth. We covered the history of our work, efforts related to human trafficking and modern day slavery, concerns around water, sustainable agriculture, GMOs, food commodities, access to medicines, and climate change, and work in community investments, climate finance, and responsible banking.  Cardinal Turkson shared his thoughts on the numerous ways in which the work of the Pontifical Council intersects with our mission. Based on this meeting, we are hopeful that we can be resources for each other and support our shared work to encourage justice and peace. One way might be by providing a greater link to global Catholic communities impacted by corporate operations throughout the world.

Later that afternoon, Cardinal Turkson delivered the Keynote Address at “Catholics, Capitalism, and the Climate,” focusing on the contributions of Laudato Si’ to these topics. Cardinal Turkson elaborated that creation established a “three-fold level of relationship for the human person: with God (creator), with other human persons in a bond of fraternity and with the world as the garden-home for our existence.”


Tri-CRI applauds Cambell's Leadership on GMO Labelling

The Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment joins the broader Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility community in welcoming Cambell's announcement that it will begin voluntarily labeling food products containing GMO ingredients.  This decision places Campbell's in a leadership role in terms of transparency and sustainability in the food sector.

Tri-CRI also recognizes the leadership of Cathy Rowan, who represents our member the Mary Knoll Sisters, in facilitating ICCR's dialogue with Campbell's for a number of years. This is the latest in a string of victories that Cathy has secured with Campbell's as it strives towards sustainability and respect for human rights.

For more information, please see ICCR's press release below:

Tri-CRI Welcomes ADM's First Progress Reports on No Deforestation, No Exploitation Policy Implementation

The Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment welcomes the release of ADM's first progress reports on the implementation of its No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy for both palm oil and soy. Implementation of these policies, which complement ADM's Human Rights Policy adopted after engagement by Tri-CRI, has followed a four step process, as the reports lay out:

  1. Identifying areas of high risk
  2. Establishing a footprint and baseline traceability
  3. Reviewing Direct Suppliers
  4. Monitoring and reporting on progress

The report on soy is available here, and the report on palm oil is available here.

An Eye On COP21 Paris Climate Negotiations


As the COP 21 Paris Climate Negotiations begin, Sister Pat Daly is in Paris with many members of the Dominican Order, and they have recently sent a statement to COP 21 delegates (see below).  You can follow their activities here. ​

​Tri-CRI members have long engaged ExxonMobil on its position on climate change, encouraging positive actions within its business model as well as leadership on climate policy. We recently led a petition calling on the company to issue a statement in support of COP 21, as many of its peers in the oil and gas sector have done. After securing 255 individual signatures, we sent the petition to ExxonMobil. We were pleased to see that ExxonMobil has released a statement that broadly supports the Paris Climate Negotiations and the goal of limiting the impacts of climate change on humanity and ecosystems. The full statement is available here.

While ExxonMobil's statement could be strengthened, particularly by including reference to limiting warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, we are pleased to see ExxonMobil taking a supportive position, and we hope that this may represent a shift towards further, more proactive actions by the company to support a carbon tax in the US capable of achieving necessary reductions in GHG emissions. Our efforts to encourage a responsible transition to a low carbon economy will continue through our shareholder resolution and the work of other members of ICCR. ​




Open Letter to the Delegates of the Twenty-First Conference of Parties

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

As Dominican Sisters and Brothers engaged in various parts of the world where we witness the devastating effects of climate change, especially on the most vulnerable, we are here in Paris to urge a redoubling of efforts to ensure the Paris summit results in a strong and legally binding agreement.

Developed countries must take the lead in the reduction of carbon emissions to ensure not more than a 1.5 degree Celsius increase over pre-industrial levels. Finances and technology for adaptation and mitigation with no strings attached must be provided to the nations who have been and are struggling with the impacts of climate change.

Governments must move away from narrow national interests and corporate interests to a commitment to the common good of people and planet if we are to avert catastrophic climate change.

As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on April 28, 2015, at a Vatican consultation on Laudato Si, “We are the first generation that can end poverty in our lifetime, and the last generation to tackle climate change before it is too late, before we have to regret. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities.”

In the words of Pope Francis, “Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest” (Laudato Si, 13).  As COP21 opened, he said, “It is either now or never…. We are at the brink of a suicide.”

-- Sister Celestina Veloso Freitas, OP, International Promoter of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of Dominican Sisters International

-- Sister Margaret Mayce, OP, Representative of the Dominican Family at the United Nations, New York

-- Father Michael Deeb, OP, Permanent Delegate of the Dominican Order to the United Nations, Geneva

On behalf of more than 180,000 Sisters, Brothers, and Laity of the Dominican Family.


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