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The showdown over Exxon's climate future is here

Exxon's annual meeting Wednesday will bring the most closely watched shareholder votes on global warming in Big Oil's history.

Driving the news: Activist investors Engine No. 1 have nominated four board members who would seek to make Exxon more aggressive on climate.


  • Engine No. 1's backers include huge public pension funds in California and New York State, and the influential proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommends shareholders support it.
  • Engine No. 1 also says Exxon lacks "any serious diversification efforts" that will prepare it to thrive in a low-carbon world. The group says Exxon needs a more disciplined capital investment approach around oil and gas.

Why it matters: It's the highest-profile effort by activist investors to force oil majors to diversify away from their dominant products more quickly.

It's also a fight over how Exxon, one of the world's most powerful corporations, should view the future after years of rocky financial performance.

The other side: Exxon management opposes the slate. The company says it's in step with the evolving energy mix, citing growing emphasis on carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels.

  • Exxon also argues its adjusted capital strategy will deliver strong returns in oil and gas, which it notes will remain huge markets for decades despite low-carbon energy growth.
  • CEO Darren Woods tells the Washington Post that Engine No. 1 "have been very focused on what I would say is perceptions of the past."

The intrigue: The rebound in Exxon's share price over the last six months could bolster management. But a new wildcard emerged last week.

  • An International Energy Agency analysis said a pathway to net-zero emissions in 2050 means no new oil and gas fields would be approved for development (investment in existing fields would continue).
  •  "It gives a fund manager extra cover to justify voting against management, cover that isn’t provided by some call to arms from Greenpeace or the Sierra Club," Bloomberg's Liam Denning writes.

Lordstown Motors: A tale of hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure

Lordstown Motors is the quintessential business fiasco. Equal parts hubris, political pandering and regulatory failure.

Why it matters: There's no indication that anyone will learn their lesson, except perhaps for some random retail investors who didn't diversify.

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GM boosts investment in electric, autonomous vehicles by $8 billion

General Motors plans to boost its cumulative investment in electric and autonomous vehicles to $35 billion from 2020-2025, a significant jump from a $27 billion target.

Driving the news: GM said this morning that the initiative will include building two new battery cell manufacturing plants in addition to the two already under construction in Tennessee and Ohio.

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Biden administration buys 200 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID vaccine

The Biden administration has purchased an additional 200 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, the biotech company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Moderna says the additional doses could be used to vaccinate children or — if necessary — as a booster shot.

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Live updates: Biden and Putin land in Geneva ahead of summit

President Biden is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders are expected to take a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before the meeting begins.

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Biden-Putin summit: What to expect when you're not expecting much

After a bitter blast from Putin and tough talk from Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit between President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

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Florida's early reopening could make it a business travel mecca

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.

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There isn’t a worker shortage in the U.S. — there’s been a worker awakening

Many politicians, pundits and business owners have said pandemic-era enhanced unemployment benefits are keeping would-be workers at home. But that's a much too simplistic explanation of today's employment situation.

The big picture: Many hard-hit sectors are rebounding faster than anecdotal evidence would suggest. And when jobs are hard to fill, a broader worker awakening over the past year is part of the reason.

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Biden's surprise pick for FTC chair, a leading tech critic, is already rocking boats

By naming tech critic Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, the White House made clear it is dead serious about antitrust enforcement and other measures to rein in Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

The intrigue: By naming Khan FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her appointment as one of five commissioners at the agency, the White House took both the industry and many D.C. insiders by surprise.

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