Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, said in a statement on the firm’s website that the move showed Exxon “wants to prevent shareholders from using their rights.”
Natasha Lamb, a co-founder of Arjuna, said in a statement that the firm had “a fundamental right and duty to voice concern over climate risk, its impacts on the global economy and shareholder value.”
Exxon’s complaint comes during a backlash against climate and related measures, with some companies and investors beginning to distance themselves from environmental, social and governance — or E.S.G. — initiatives.
The volume of E.S.G. proposals at companies increased in 2023, but support among shareholders fell from the year before, the sharpest decline for environmental proposals. according to the Conference Board. Paul Washington, executive director of the Conference Board’s E.S.G. Center, said that shift reflected increasingly bold and unpopular proposals by activist funds, not a change in commitment by institutional investors.
“The decline in the support is not really reflective of a decline in the importance that investors place in E.S.G.,” Mr. Washington said. “That’s still there.”