Descendants of John D Rockefeller, the oil magnate whose Standard Oil made him the richest man in history at the turn of the 19th-century, pressed the modern-day ExxonMobil to focus on the impact of climate change and change its focus to renewable energies.
For the second year in a row, members of the Rockefeller family attended the annual ExxonMobil shareholder meeting in Dallas, Texas, yesterday to warn that the company will not survive if it does not lift its sights beyond fossil fuels.
But Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive, told them that oil and gas will continue to be world's dominant fuels, meeting nearly two-thirds of global energy needs until at least 2030, and shareholders voted down a slew of proposals aimed at making Exxon focus more heavily on green issues.
Shareholders who attended the meeting at the massive Meyerson Symphony Hall were not greeted by any environmental protesters, a first in many years at a company whose previous chief executive, Lee Raymond, was dubbed the "Darth Vader of global warming" by activists because Exxon used to sponsor groups who denied climate change was caused by human activity.
Mr Tillerson said the company was already investing in research into the causes and the possible effects of climate change, which he said Exxon viewed as "a serious risk-management issue".
Ann Rockefeller Roberts, a descendant of John D Rockefeller, warned unless the company increased its focus on renewable energy, it would eventually suffer financially.
Stephen Viederman, proposing a resolution that would urge management to put more focus on renewable fuels, said: "Exxon is very profitable now, but ill-prepared for sustaining value in the future. Energy challenges for the future have lead times of decades, not years, but Exxon has the entrenched mindset of an oil and gas company. Unlike its major competitors, Exxon has neither a policy nor plan of action, nor significant investment in renewable energy, which will play a larger role in the future than its scenarios project."
All the shareholder resolutions went down to defeat, including one which would have separated the roles of chairman and chief executive, a move many campaigners hoped could have helped install a more green-focused chairman above Mr Tillerson.
Chevron also held its annual meeting yesterday, where shareholders rejected a call for an environmental protection report on its global operations. The company is battling a $27bn legal claim over jungle pollution in Ecuador.Reuse content