The ExxonMobil annual shareholder meeting this year carried high expectations from shareholder activists. Members of the Rockefeller family, descending from the founder of the Standard Oil monopoly that splintered into Exxon and Mobil, attended the meeting to support four different shareholder resolutions on corporate governance and climate change. Of these four, the resolution supported by most Rockefellers asked the company to split the CEO and Board Chair positions. Today’s CWR guest, Bob Monks, has filed this resolution at ExxonMobil since the early 2000s. His struggle to hold ExxonMobil accountable exemplifies the broader struggle to hold corporations accountable described in his new book, Corpocracy. Monks is co-founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, The Corporate Library, Lens Governance Advisors, and a former Labor Department official in the Reagan Administration.
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Longtime shareholder activist Steve Viederman presented this statement at the ExxonMobil Annual Meeting in May 2008 to introduce resolution 19 asking Exxon to adopt a renewable energy policy. He filed the resolution along with other individuals, families, foundations and religious orders, joined by 20 institutional investors worth over $740 billion in combined assets, including Exxon Mobil stock valued at more than $8.6 billion.
Last week, the price of corn rose above $7 a bushel on the commodities market for the first time, and soybeans rose sharply, too, reacting to the harsh weather hampering crop production across the US Midwest. Soaring global demand in addition to the increased use of corn for ethanol, an alternative fuel, have shrunk the worldwide supply of staples that are the core of practically every continent’s diet. Meanwhile, the price of oil has jumped, raising the cost of producing crops and feeding livestock and causing an increase in grocery bills here and abroad, sparking riots and protests in at least two dozen countries. CWR co-host Francesca Rheannon speaks about this global food crisis with Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved. Patel is a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and a researcher with the Land Research Action Network as well as the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
CWR Viewpoint: read (Thanks to our partner CSRwire for posting text of CWR commentaries.)
Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans Organic Fair Trade Coffee Company comments on the link between climate change and coffee as experienced by indigenous Arhuaco coffee farmer Javier Mestres in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia.
In a 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Al Gore infamously likened the practice of extracting oil from tar sands to “junkies find[ing] veins in their toes” to inject heroin. Gore’s image simply extends to its logical conclusion George Bush’s 2006 State of the Union “addicted to oil” metaphor. Clean, renewable energy represents a healthy cure for petro-addiction. Tar sands, which increase the carbon intensity of petroleum extraction, represent an exacerbation of the climate-changing addiction–kind of like trying to cure heroin addiction by injecting arsenic. CWR co-host Bill Baue speaks with Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, about her shareholder activism asking oil companies such as ConocoPhillips and BP to assess and disclose the social, environmental, and financial risks of tar sands exploitation. We also hear from the Environmental Integrity Project and Environmental Defence Canada about their brand new report, Tar Sands: Feeding U.S. Refinery Expansions With Dirty Fuel.
Today CWR takes you to a conference at the intersection between climate change and transportation held last week at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There, climate scientists, engineers, government officials and activists gathered for a “Climate Change Think Tank” to brainstorm solutions to the problem of transport accounting for some 30 percent of carbon emissions. CWR co-hosts Francesca Rheannon and Bill Baue spoke with Representative John Olver, chair of the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Transportation; Paul Brubaker, head of the US Department of Transportation Research and Innovation Technology Administration; Michael Replogle of Environmental Defense Fund; and Jeff Brown of RideBuzz.org, a regional ride-sharing initiative.