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Big US Pension Fund Joins Critics Of ExxonMobil Climate Stance

Michael Boskin, head of ExxonMobil's Public Issues Committee.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 29, 2007
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the biggest US public pension fund, said Tuesday it had joined other ExxonMobil shareholders who want the oil giant to change its climate policies. CalPERS announced its support for other disgruntled investors who will seek to reform ExxonMobil's position on global warming at the oil giant's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday.

The dissident investors, who also include the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the New York City Employees Retirement System, control more than 100 million shares of ExxonMobil stock.

They plan to seek the removal of Michael Boskin, the head of ExxonMobil's Public Issues Committee, from the board of directors of the world's largest oil company at Wednesday's meeting in Dallas, Texas.

The activist shareholders say Boskin, who is supported by the board for re-election, is being targeted because he has the power to change ExxonMobil's stance on climate change.

They also claim that ExxonMobil opposes a national climate policy and funds groups that question the scientific consensus on climate change.

Most scientists say greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

The company says it is moving to improve its energy efficiency while also seeking to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions.

CalPERS said it was joining the other shareholders in part because of Boskin's "refusals to meet with investors on the company's climate strategy" despite his written statements to the investors' group.

"We have a fundamental problem when directors refuse to meet with people they're elected to represent, especially one who has a leading role on the company's board," said Russell Read, CalPERS chief investment officer.

An ExxonMobil spokesperson, Gantt Walton, said: "Doctor Boskin has been very engaged with this group and has responded to all the group's concerns."

Although Boskin has not met with the investors, senior ExxonMobil executives have met with at least one of the dissident shareholders.

The shareholders say they will also urge ExxonMobil to set specific benchmarks for reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions and encourage the company to boost its spending on renewable energy technologies at the annual investor gathering.

Among other groups seeking a reform of ExxonMobil's climate position are the Illinois State Board of Investment and the Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, North Carolina and Vermont state treasurers.

CalPERS has 245 billion dollars' worth of assets and manages pension and health benefits for 1.5 million California public employees, retirees and their families.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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