Positive Investment Cambridge lay out their lettersPositive Investment Cambridge

More than 1,000 professors from twenty countries are urging shareholders in Exxon Mobil and Chevron to pass resolutions to be more open on climate change issues in a letter to be delivered today.

Academics from Cambridge, Oxford, and all eight Ivy League universities have signed the letter, including Lord Deben, Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change; Professor Bob Eccles from the Harvard Business School; and Lord Martin Rees of the University of Cambridge.

Positive Investment, a Cambridge based campaign group, says that the letter calls on shareholders to pass eight climate-related resolutions at the companies' Annual General Meetings (AGMs) on 25th May, including resolutions covering two degree celsius business plans, lobbying disclosure, and methane leakage.

"Academics clearly recognise that this is a chance to change the trajectory of two of the largest fossil fuel companies in the world," said Positive Investment spokesperson Lily Tomson.

Helen Wildsmith, stewardship director for climate change at CCLA Investment Management told the Financial Times, which manages £6 billion on behalf of charities, religious organisations and the public sector, said: “The fact that 1,000 professors have backed this campaign will be noticed by asset managers and asset owners globally.”

Another member of Positive Investment, Natalie Jones, told Varsity that this was not simply an ethical choice, but that "there is a large amount of financial risk in Exxon and Chevron's current strategy due to the so-called 'carbon bubble' caused by unburnable fossil fuel assets" and so it is in the direct interest of shareholders to adopt changes.

"The upcoming votes are a crucial opportunity to set these companies on the right track, and it's important not to waste this chance" said Jones.

"Although there are AGMs every year, and shareholders can subsequently improve upon the resolutions which will hopefully be passed this year, the sooner we tackle climate change the better it will be for all of us."

Positive Investment Cambridge

One shareholder, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund recently announced its support for the portfolio resilience resolutions co-field by the Church Commissioners for England. Others, including investment management companies Vanguard and BlackRock, have refused to comment on their voting intentions.

Vote Your Pension has been advocating pensioners to support a vote for what it calls "forward-thinking resolutions". Chevron employees represent a significant portion of voters, with the Chevron Employee Savings Investment Plan coming third among Chevron’s investors.

Positive Investment, the group that organised the open letter, is global coalition of student, academics, and staff concerned about ethical investment, who began at the University of Cambridge. They hit the front page of The Independent earlier this year with a joint statement from 300 academics demanding an end to fossil fuel investment.

In Cambridge they maintain a strong presence, with two of their members, Farhan Samanani and Ellen Quigley, sitting on the working group looking at the University’s investment policy. The report is due later this month, and the group has come under strong pressure from Zero Carbon, another activist group, who held a march for divestment earlier this month.

Natalie Jones from Positive Investment encouraged other students to start movements against unethical investment at their universities, saying "if yours doesn't, why not start one?"