Anger at oil chief's $400m retirement package

Lee Raymond, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has bowed out from the oil giant with a $400m pay and retirement deal that has caused outrage among environmentalists. In his 12 years at the top of the company, Exxon has pumped an estimated six billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere and has led the opposition to action on climate change

A A A

Investors and environmental campaigners condemned a $400m (£214m) retirement package for the boss of Exxon Mobil, the man known as the "Darth Vader of global warming" for his denial that carbon emissions cause climate change.

Protesters descended on the annual shareholder meeting of the world's largest oil company's in Dallas, Texas, amid fury over the lavish lifestyle that it plans to fund for Lee Raymond, who retired after 12 years as chairman and chief executive.

Exxon has been condemned by green groups for fuelling the world's addiction to oil by opposing the Kyoto treaty on reducing emissions and refusing to invest a penny in alternative energy sources. The total amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by the production and use of Exxon's oil and gas output is calculated at 500 million tons a year, or six billion tons during Mr Raymond's tenure.

Since becoming chief executive in 1993, Mr Raymond had become infamous for his dismissive response to environmental lobbyists at previous annual meetings. He has funnelled $19m of Exxon's money to groups that question the science of global warming. His package of pension and perks includes a bodyguard, a car and driver, and use of a company jet, plus a $1m-a-year deal to stay on as a consultant.

Exxon says the value of the package is at least $258m, which comes on top of a retirement bonus of $98.4m. This largesse makes his salary and bonus for 2005, $49m, look modest by comparison, but it was still one of the biggest pay deals for an executive last year and it has stoked claims that big oil companies are profiteering from the soaring price of crude. Exxon made a profit of $36.1bn in 2005, the biggest ever by any company in the world.

Up to 100 protesters gathered outside the Morton H Meyerson Symphony Centre in downtown Dallas to bang drums and chant slogans, including "Pumping global warming lies" and "No planet, no dividends".

Shawnee Hoover, the director of the Exxpose Exxon coalition of environmental groups, said the size of Mr Raymond's retirement package had crystallised anger against the company, the squeeze on oil prices and the company's increasingly isolated stance on alternative energy.

Even President George Bush, a significant beneficiary of funding from Exxon while he was the governor of Texas, now says high oil prices should prompt investment in sustainable energy. "It is not only that Exxon is making record corporate profits," Ms Hoover said, "but also that it is paying its chief executives some of the highest compensation packages that have been seen. While ordinary families and businesses are struggling under the weight of the high oil price, Exxon Mobil has been a key architect of keeping America addicted to oil and to keeping the status quo."

Exxpose Exxon is encouraging consumers to boycott Exxon Mobil's service stations, which include the Esso brand. The coalition includes Friends of the Earth, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace, which has disrupted Exxon board meetings and speeches by Mr Raymond over several years.

Ben Stewart, of Greenpeace UK, said: "Exxon bosses are the Darth Vaders of global warming. They have run a 50-year-long campaign of dirty tricks designed to block action on the greatest threat to humanity. In years to come, the campaign by this company will be regarded as nothing less than a crime. There are striking parallels with the propaganda campaigns run by tobacco companies in the Sixties, but the damage done by this company could be much greater." Richard Heede, of Climate Mitigation Services - whose Friends of the Earth-commissioned report attempted to calculate Exxon's total carbon dioxide and methane emissions, plus those of end customers burning its oil and gas - said Exxon was still responsible for at least 500 million tons of carbon a year.

Mr Raymond routinely accuses advocates of a link between global warming and carbon emissions of practising fuzzy science. His first action as a senior executive was to cut solar and other alternative energy programmes because they did not seem likely to make money for decades.

His successor, Rex Tillerson, who took over at the start of the year, has attempted to put a more congenial face on Exxon's stance. The company still argues that the link between emissions and global warming rests on the assertion of expert scientists rather than on robust scientific models. He told shareholders: "The level of misinformation only makes it more important to discuss the massive scale of our industry and the meaningful alternatives available in the foreseeable future."

Investors lambasted Exxon's board for Mr Raymond's retirement package, and several said they would withhold their support for the re-election of directors on the remuneration committee. Others argued refusing to invest in renewable energy would condemn the company to extinction. Resolutions proposed by green groups attracted more support than in previous years but were still defeated.

Exxon said: "Operating in an environmentally responsible manner has long been and continues to be a primary focus for ExxonMobil. This includes... regular dialogue with local communities, and research to understand the impacts of air quality on health."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Luxury Brand - Retail Sales Assistant - Part or Full Time

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Luxury Jeweller and Accessories - Retail Sale...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£13676.46 - £15864.28 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Re...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Designer is required to j...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most