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Sustainability reporting comes under legal scrutiny

Did Exxon lie about its climate change reporting?

Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil has received a subpoena from the New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, regarding its climate change disclosures.

The subpoena documents suggest that Exxon Mobil knew about the risks of climate change at a time that it was publicly denying the dangers it posed. In a statement, Exxon Mobil confirms it is under investigation and says its executives “unequivocally reject allegations that ExxonMobil suppressed climate change research.”

Exxon Mobil said it had included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in our 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders.

Separately Schneiderman has reached an agreement with coal company, Peabody after he found that the firm had violated New York laws prohibiting false and misleading conduct in the company’s statements to the public and investors regarding financial risks associated with climate change and potential regulatory responses.

As part of the agreement, Peabody will file revised shareholder disclosures with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that accurately and objectively represent the risks posed by burning coal to investors and the public.

The disclosures affirm that “concerns about the environmental impacts of coal combustion…could significantly affect demand for our products or our securities.” Peabody has agreed that all future statements to shareholders and the public will be consistent with the terms of its agreement with the Attorney General’s office and the disclosures it will file with the SEC.

What do you think?