CalPERS tilts deck toward ExxonMobil proxy activist; plus Tesla's China problems

By David Callaway, Callaway Climate Insights

Climate change has invisibly altered Earth’s axis, new research shows. Glacial melting due to global warming is likely the cause of a shift in the movement of the poles. And that matters because a change in the distribution of mass on Earth affects the way it spins.

Proxy season’s biggest climate moment occurred this week after the largest pension fund in the U.S. declared it would vote its 10% stake in ExxonMobil (XOM) for an activist hedge fund’s campaign to replace four directors on the oil giant with a slate more inclined to renewable energy.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, joined the state’s teacher’s fund, as well as the New York State pension fund, in supporting Engine No. 1’s campaign for the proxy election late next month.

CalPERs has long been a leader in pushing a climate agenda, but its support in the ExxonMobil election — the largest climate campaign in the proxy season — is pivotal. Shareholder resolutions and proxy campaigns have been slowly moving in the direction of climate transition in the past few years, but this year could be a breakout.

Citigroup (C) said in its annual environmental report this week that it turned its back on financing deals for 11 coal and mining projects last year, as it began to shift to its pledge to remove fossil fuel financing by 2030. Small amount of projects but a sign the finance industry is beginning to move from pledges, to action.

ExxonMobil has claimed it intends to reduce emissions by 15% to 20% by 2025, and it has raised the idea of a massive carbon capture project, although it would require U.S. support. Engine No. 1, in an analysis released this week, said the company’s emissions are actually set to rise into 2025.

All eyes now turn toward BlackRock (BLK) and Vanguard, both large ExxonMobil shareholders, to see how they will vote. Both have made loud noises about supporting climate change and holding companies to account. Expect to hear shortly.

More insights below. . . .

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. . . . One subject Elon Musk won’t likely discuss in his monologue on Saturday Night Live this weekend is Tesla’s growing problems in China, it’s largest international market and source of most of it components. The second quarter will be key for Tesla and its stock. Read more here. . . .

. . . . Shale gas stocks, already under pressure from lower production levels, took another hit over the weekend after California Gov. Gavin Newsom banned new fracking permits from 2024. Local politics and a recall campaign played a role, but the ban is real to an industry with 300,000 oil and gas jobs in the state. Read more here. . .

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