Co-op plans to vote against re-election of Exxon chief

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The Independent Online

The Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) is to oppose the re-election of Lee Raymond, the chairman and chief executive of the oil giant Exxon Mobil, at tomorrow's annual meeting.

The Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) is to oppose the re-election of Lee Raymond, the chairman and chief executive of the oil giant Exxon Mobil, at tomorrow's annual meeting.

The company has been criticised by "socially responsible" investors and some mainstream shareholders for its position and action on global climate change. The AGM will see 10 special shareholder resolutions put to the vote, many relating to environmental concerns.

Paul Monaghan, the head of sustainable development at Co-operative Financial Services, said: "To my knowledge, nobody has ever voted down a director for ethical reasons before. It has been done for corporate governance issues." He said "our hand had been forced" after the Co-op's insurance arm saw a 500 per cent jump in flood damage claims, which showed "the reality of the climate change impact".

Ian Jones, the head of responsible investment at CIS, which hold $25m (£14m) of Exxon shares, said: "In the short term their corporate reputation is suffering as they talk down international conventions such as the Kyoto protocol and the emerging evidence that human activity is a significant contributor to climate change and extreme weather events. In the long term, their reluctance to invest in renewables generation indicates an aversion to managing this gravest of all environmental issues."

Exxon, the world's biggest oil and gas producer, has consistently opposed the Kyoto treaty, which seeks to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. It has questioned whether human activity is responsible for it. Mr Raymond has declared that Europe needs a "reality check" over its commitment to Kyoto targets.

A spokesman for Exxon said yesterday: "We will continue to take actions and work with others on ways to bring scientific and technological expertise to energy-related solutions that are technically and economically viable."

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