DALLAS (AP) — The CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp. says there's no quick replacement for oil, and sharply cutting oil's use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would make it harder to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.
"What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?" CEO Rex Tillerson said at the oil giant's annual meeting Wednesday.
Tillerson jousted with environmental activists who proposed that the company set goals to reduce emissions from its products and operations.
Shareholders sided with the company and voted nearly 3-to-1 to reject the proposal.
By a 4-to-1 ratio, shareholders defeated a resolution to explicitly ban discrimination against gays. The Exxon board had argued that the company already banned discrimination of any type and didn't need to add language regarding gays.
Both votes were repeats of recent years in which shareholders rejected anti-bias and climate change resolutions.
Exxon's annual meeting once drew dozens of protesters from environmental and human-rights groups, but there was only a lone demonstrator outside as the meeting began Wednesday in an ornate symphony hall.
A retirement fund for New York state employees proposed that Exxon ban bias based on sexual orientation. The group said the lack of specific protection for gays hurt the company's ability to recruit employees from the widest pool of talent.
Exxon is tapping tar-sands oil in Canada and using hydraulic fracturing to boost U.S. production of natural gas. Some environmentalists oppose both practices and say that Exxon should invest more to develop wind, solar and geothermal energy. The company has made forays into alternative energy sources but argues that the world will be dependent on oil for decades.
Exxon Mobil Corp. is coming off its second-biggest profit ever, having earned $44.9 billion in 2012.
The shares rose 2 percent last year, the same as rival Chevron Corp. This year, through Tuesday, Exxon shares had gained 7 percent while Chevron shares had risen 17 percent.
In midday trading, Exxon shares were down 62 cents to $91.76. They are still near the high end of their 52-week high of $77.13 to $93.67.