Climate activists won yet another victory against Exxon Mobil on Wednesday after a third member was elected to the oil giant’s board, raising the stakes for the company amid criticism it has done little to address the growing threat of climate change.
Exxon said Alexander Karsner, a strategist who works at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, and who has experience in renewable energy fields, secured enough votes to sit on the board. He served as the assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Department of Energy under President George W. Bush and has worked for companies that helped build large solar plants, bringing deep environmental credentials to the fossil fuel producer, The New York Times reported.
Karsner joins two other board members pushed by a small, activist hedge fund called Engine No. 1 that rallied some of Exxon’s biggest investors into calling for the oil giant to shift its business model to better address climate change and ultimately invest in renewable energy sources. Gregory Goff and Kaisa Hietala were also elected last mont, both of whom have experience in the energy industry. A fourth nominee touted by Engine No. 1 was defeated.
Exxon had largely been able to push its own choices to fill out the company’s 12-member board, and the outcome reflects a defeat for its leaders.
“We look forward to working with all of our directors to build on the progress we’ve made to grow long-term shareholder value and succeed in a lower-carbon future,” Darren Woods, chairman and CEO of Exxon, said in a statement. “We thank all shareholders for their engagement and participation, and their ongoing support for our company.”
The results are still preliminary, but they have been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and will be certified and validated by an independent inspector.
Several major oil companies suffered blows in recent days to their business practices. A court in the Netherlands last week ordered Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 45% below 2019 levels by the end of the decade. And last Wednesday, shareholders at Chevron voted to force the oil giant to plan to cut emissions generated by its products.