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Washington – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable last week filed a joint amicus brief in Texas federal court arguing that Exxon was right to file its unprecedented, highly contentious lawsuit against its shareholders Arjuna Capital and Follow This. The groups blamed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for making it difficult to exclude resolutions and accused shareholders of inundating “public corporations with proposals designed to push ideological agendas.”  

IN REALITY: Arjuna Capital and Follow This were pushing Exxon to implement table stakes climate disclosures and targets that investors across the financial ecosystem demand. 

  • Exxon is the only Western oil giant without ‘scope 3’ targets, and the shareholder resolution requested the company set such targets and elevate the company’s climate disclosures to its full value chain.
  • Investors demand and deserve reliable risk-related disclosures from companies. Following the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule, nearly 200 investment firms, nonprofits, and state Treasurers publicly advocated for the policy, arguing it will “help companies and investors to understand, price, and manage climate risks and opportunities.”
  • Research groups have also advocated for the rule, arguing that transparency is the bedrock of America’s financial system and the “consequences of climate change are creating new and growing forms of financial risk that investors need to consider when choosing how to prudently allocate capital.” They have also argued that America’s current voluntary disclosure environment is expensive for both issuers and investors, hindering decision-making and effective capital investments.

THE BACK STORY: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long been an opponent of the SEC’s climate disclosure ruling and is leveraging the Exxon shareholder lawsuit to block it. 

  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, alongside groups like the American Petroleum Institute, has pushed the SEC to drop mandatory disclosures from its proposed rule, arguing in their 141 page comment that it should be “entirely voluntary.”
    • During the second quarter of 2022, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce disclosed spending some of its $15.8 million in lobbying expenses specifically on the SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rule.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce takes in millions of dollars each year from big oil companies and gave them four seats on the group’s board of directors. The Chamber gave seats to Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Shell USA, Inc.
    • In 2022, Chevron contributed $500,000.
    • In 2022, Shell contributed between $1 million and $2.5 Million.
    • In 2022, ConocoPhillips contributed over $500,000.
  • The U.S. Chamber’s membership includes some of the largest producers of carbon emissions in the U.S., accounting for at least 5% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

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