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Marketplace Morning Report

Oil companies are pressed to address climate change

Ashley Milne-Tyte May 12, 2016
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An oil rig in Taft, California extracts crude.
David McNew/Getty Images

A report out on Thursday from the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group says investors care more about sustainability than you might think. The reason? They believe companies’ environmental records affect their success. This comes as a large group of academics presses ExxonMobil and Chevron shareholders to open up about their efforts to combat climate change.

Lily Tomson, an undergraduate at Cambridge University, is a member of Positive Investment, the academic-based campaign that’s pushing Exxon and Chevron to do things like set goals for cutting greenhouse gases.

“It’s trying to steer the big guys round to do something about the biggest problem of our generation,” she said.

Oil companies may resent zealous shareholders, but Amy Myers Jaffe, who directs the energy and sustainability program at UC Davis, said these firms will get greener. This is partly because they’ll have to. She said companies won’t be able to generate past oil profits in the future.

“We have ride sharing, we have new efficient vehicles,” she said. “Companies need to step back and say, ‘Will my strategy be resilient in a world where oil demand peaks in the 2020s or 2030s, or even in the 2040s?'”

She said much of what these resolutions demand has already become best practice at other companies.

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