Climate Liability: The New York attorney general’s investigation of Exxon Mobil

Publication date: 1st February 2016

On 5 November 2015 it was reported that the New York attorney general had opened an investigation of Exxon to determine “whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research”.

On 20 January, it was reported that the California attorney general has also opened an investigation into the adequacy of Exxon Mobil’s climate risk disclosures.

This new investor briefing outlines the investigation, the possible consequences, and the potential vulnerability of other fossil fuel companies to similar scrutiny.

Key risks for investors highlighted by the Exxon investigation include:

  • Inadequacy of corporate disclosures of climate risks to business
  • Vulnerability of investee companies to regulatory investigations & litigation
  • Association with climate denial organisations and loss of social licence

The briefing includes questions we suggest investors ask fossil fuel and other climate vulnerable companies to assess whether they are adequately assessing and addressing the risks. In particular we suggest questions to help assess whether external climate risk disclosures are consistent with internal impact assessments and whether corporate public policy positions and links with particular lobby groups  are aligned with shareholder interests.

Download the report: