Rockefellers push Exxon to Fight Global Warming

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Exxon/Mobil, long considered one of the oil companies most resistant to change, may soon be forced to help fight global warming and explore alternative energy options. The pressure to change isn't coming from outside environmentalists or governments, though: Several Rockefeller family members descended from legendary oilman John D. Rockefeller himself have proposed a resolution asking Exxon to take global warming seriously and move beyond oil. They hope Exxon/Mobil (the modern incarnation of Rockefeller's Standard Oil) will refocus business efforts to become a leader in alternative energy sources, including solar power, wind turbines, biofuels, and hydrogen energy.

“Exxon Mobil needs to reconnect with the forward-looking and entrepreneurial vision of my great-grandfather,” Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, a Tufts University economist, said in a statement to reporters. 

“The truth is that Exxon Mobil is profiting in the short term from investments and decisions made many years ago, and by focusing on a narrow path that ignores the rapidly shifting energy landscape around the world,” she added.

Large coalitions of shareholders have joined the Rockefellers in their pursuit to refocus Exxon, and they've even obtained the blessing of family patriarch David Rockefeller.

“I support my family’s efforts to sharpen Exxon Mobil’s focus on the environmental crisis facing all of us.”

In addition to diversifying the company through alternative energy exploration, the family proposes for Exxon/Mobil to actively fight global warming by reducing its company-wide carbon footprint. The four resolutions enjoy varied support among the family members, with 73 out of 78 surviving adult Rockefellers backing one resolution in particular.

“You need a board asking the tough questions,” Peter O’Neill, a private equity investor and great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, said in an interview. “We expect the company to figure out how in this changing world to adjust.”

If the resolutions pass, the board is expected to take the family's considerations into serious account. It could also be seen as a full-circle event of sorts for the Rockefellers: Though John D. Rockefeller is widely associated with plundering the land for oil, his grandsons devoted themselves to fighting against pollution and for conservation.

— Ted Alvarez

Rockefellers seek change at Exxon (NY Times)