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Shareholders expect oil companies to be 'responsive' to climate change

Sara Dramer
·Associate Producer

Climate change emerging as the urgent issue of the day. Last year was the second-hottest year on record and the 2010s being the warmest decade on record.

And for the first time, climate-related issues dominated the top-five likely risks over the next decade, according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) new annual "Global Risks Report," which ranks the most urgent risks currently facing the globe.

One oil industry watcher says big oil companies need to adopt better climate change policies or face repercussions from shareholders.

“If you look five or 10 years ago, the oil and gas companies were sort of protected from environmental influences and they could be actual climate change deniers and support those things, and that has changed a lot,” Dan Dicker, energy expert and founder of The Energy Word, told Yahoo Finance’s “The Final Round.”

Last October, a study released by the climate advocacy and research firm Climate Accountability Institute found that the 20 largest fossil fuel companies have accounted for 35% of global carbon emissions since 1965.

Dicker says companies now more than ever need to show they are aligned with climate change policies. “Shareholders themselves are expecting oil companies to be more responsive to climate change in a way that they’ve never had to be before” Dicker said.

He points to Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) as one of the first big oil companies to respond to climate change after the company made the decision to withdraw from a U.S. refining lobby group because of disagreement on climate policies. The withdrawal was in an effort to show the public that it supports the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“[Climate change] is, in fact, affecting the capital that’s going into oil companies and it’s making a big difference in the way they have to structure their businesses going forward in the next five to 10 years,” said Dicker.

Sara Dramer is an associate producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @saradramer

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