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The defeat of Big Oil represents a turning point in the battle for climate change.

London — Some of the world’s largest corporate emissions companies suffered a series of groundbreaking board and court defeats, which are for investors seeking quicker action to deal with climate emergencies. It reflects a decline in patience.

In just a few hours on Wednesday, a major U.S. oil shareholder Exxon mobile Supported A small activist hedge fund overhauling the company’s board of directors, an investor in a US energy company Chevron Challenged management in important climate polls and Dutch courts Ordered Royal Dutch Shell Take more proactive action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The confluence of the events shows that there is increasing pressure on international oil and gas companies to set short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. Those that meet the Paris Agreement — A widely recognized climate agreement that is very important in avoiding an irreversible climate crisis.

Currently, both of the world’s largest oil and gas companies Disclosure How will we achieve our goal of becoming a net-zero company by 2050, more than five years after the Paris Agreement was ratified in about 200 countries?

“It’s a very shocking day for Big Oil,” Bill McKibben, author and founder of Grassroots Climate Campaign 350.org, said on Twitter Wednesday. “Thanks to everyone who fights. If you press it long enough, the domino will fall. “

What happened on wednesday?

Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon, told CNBC Wednesday: “Closing Bell” He welcomed the new director and said, “We look forward to helping them understand our plans and hear their insights and perspectives.”

Exxon’s management is trying to highlight the steps it takes to strengthen its role in the future of low carbon, such as funding research on carbon capture and other emission reduction technologies.

Shareholders of Exxon’s closest rival, Chevron, voted in favor of a proposal proposed by the Dutch group Follow This to encourage oil companies to reduce emissions. The move underscores activist-led investor pressure to reduce corporate carbon dioxide emissions.

“Large oil companies can fulfill or break the Paris Agreement. Oil company investors now want to act by reducing emissions. Not in the distant future. After a majority vote.

Chevron has promised to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to the climate crisis, but has not yet set a path to net zero emissions by 2050.

Read more about CNBC Pro’s clean energy

Dutch courts in Europe Domination Shells need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030. This is a far higher reduction than the company’s current goal of reducing emissions by 20% by 2030.

A court ruling also states that Shell is responsible for carbon dioxide emissions from its own company and its suppliers, known as Scope 3 emissions. The court ruling stipulates that companies have a legal obligation to align their policies with the Paris Agreement. It is believed to be the first in history to bear.

A Shell spokeswoman said he hopes the company will appeal as a “disappointed” court decision.

What’s next?

Tom Cummins, a dispute resolution partner at law firm Asherst, told CNBC in an email that the Dutch ruling against Shell could have widespread implications for the oil and gas industry.

“This is perhaps the most important climate change decision to date, emphasizing that governments as well as businesses may be subject to strategic proceedings seeking to drive change in behavior. “I will,” said Cummins.

“Oil and gas companies will scrutinize the ruling and pressure groups and plaintiff lawyers to see if there is room for similar claims against other companies in other jurisdictions.”

On July 31, 2020, a sign is displayed in front of a Chevron gas station in Novato, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

However, not everyone agrees that court decisions are likely to put more pressure on the oil and gas industry. Per Magnus Nysveen, head of analysis for Oslo-based Rystad Energy, said it was “hard to imagine” that the final court ruling would blame oil companies for so-called end-use emissions.

“End-user emissions should be more consumer responsibility. In my opinion, this ruling has little chance of surviving the appeal,” Nysveen said.

“But it’s not surprising that this lower court ruling was made in the Netherlands, as Dutch public opinion is particularly sensitive to the climate impact of the energy industry,” he added.

Regarding the change in Exxon’s board, Bank of America analyst Doug Leggate said the actual impact was “little important” and “very symbolic.”

“This does not affect XOM’s case studies, strategies, or the leadership team’s view that we consider it a working supporter for responsible oil and gas investments,” Leggate notes. It is stated in.

The defeat of Big Oil represents a turning point in the battle for climate change.

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