A Harvard College professor and environmental regulation scholar stated she has stop the board of ConocoPhillips Co., after coming beneath scrutiny for her function within the oil and fuel main.
“I’ve stepped off the ConocoPhillips board to give attention to my analysis at Harvard and make house for some new alternatives”, Jody Freeman stated in a press assertion on her private web site.
She didn’t cite claims that in a possible breach of Harvard coverage, she had helped prepare a gathering between the corporate and a Securities and Change Fee (SEC) director. Her purported intermediary function was reported by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and The Guardian in April citing e-mail correspondence they’d obtained.
“Freeman, who receives greater than $350,000 a 12 months from ConocoPhillips as a board member, used her Ivy League connections to vouch for 2 of the oil agency’s executives and seems to have breached Harvard coverage by failing to reveal her function with the corporate in her e-mail, which she signed off as a Harvard regulation professor”, stated the authors writing for each TBIJ and The Guardian April 6.
The SEC on the time was proposing guidelines that might require corporations to publish their emissions, famous the authors.
“Freeman’s emails – despatched in January 2021 and obtained through a Freedom of Info Act request – present she helped arrange a gathering the place ConocoPhillips executives might set out their place in non-public earlier than the regulator publicly requested enter from buyers and firms”, they added. “The corporate has since despatched its official response to the SEC, opposing the principles.”
The supposed assembly was to be between ConocoPhillips govt Dominic Macklon and head of sustainability Lloyd Visser and then-SEC appearing director John Coates, the authors stated.
A disclosure by the SEC dated Could 3, 2021 stated Coates and one other SEC official had met with representatives of the corporate together with the 2. “Among the many matters mentioned have been the March 15, 2021 request for public enter associated to local weather change disclosures”, the SEC memorandum stated.
Freeman stated the report on the British information organizations was “deceptive”.
“John, my Harvard Legislation Faculty colleague, when he was nonetheless at Harvard, requested me to attach him to folks on the firm as a part of his technique of gathering data from all stakeholders”, she stated in an announcement on her on-line portal April 12, 2023. “I responded to his request and related him to the corporate, introducing him to educated folks there, explaining who they have been.”
Freeman quoted Coates as saying in an announcement, “To be clear: Jody’s board function at Conoco was recognized to me, I reached out to her first, and she or he didn’t request a gathering or ‘foyer’ me or others on the SEC for Conoco”.
“Whereas nonetheless at Harvard, making ready to on-board on the SEC, I requested Jody – together with many different folks – to attach me to individuals who had targeted on local weather disclosure”, Coates’ assertion added, as carried by Freeman’s website. “In Jody’s case, I knew she was on the board at ConocoPhillips (which she discloses on her HLS [Harvard Law School] bio and can be a matter of public file), and contacted her partly for that motive, and partly as a result of she is a cautious and balanced scholar of environmental regulation. “
Coates’ assertion stated the rationale for reaching out to ConocoPhillips was “to study how local weather disclosure was being considered throughout a spread of viewpoints”.
Final week Freeman stated she has resigned from ConocoPhillips to give attention to her work at Harvard.
“I need to prioritize our environmental regulation program’s cross-disciplinary work on methane discount, internet zero pledges, and power transition planning and focus on making this system even stronger by rising employees and capability”, she stated. “I am additionally excited concerning the prospect of writing a ebook on our environmental challenges and the way we are able to make sooner progress.”
“I discovered rather a lot from my decade-long board service, suppose I made a constructive distinction, and am glad I did it”, Freeman added referring to her tenure at ConocoPhillips.
“I’ll proceed to have interaction in work past the college to handle local weather change and promote clear power”, she concluded.
‘Battle of Curiosity’
In March after ConocoPhillips received environmental clearance for the Willow oil drilling mission, thought of to be close to Arctic waters, a Harvard student-faculty marketing campaign group wrote an open letter to Freeman urging her to relinquish her place within the firm. “Professor Freeman, you could have carried out essential local weather work in the middle of your profession, however it dangers being overshadowed by the battle of curiosity posed by your simultaneous management roles at Harvard and ConocoPhillips”, Fossil Gasoline Divest Harvard wrote on the running a blog website Medium March 28.
Freeman’s profile on the Harvard web site describes her as “the Archibald Cox Professor of Legislation at Harvard Legislation Faculty, and a number one scholar of administrative regulation and environmental regulation”.
“Freeman served as Counselor for Power and Local weather Change within the Obama White Home in 2009-2010. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American School of Environmental Legal professionals and a member of the Council on Overseas Relations”, Harvard provides. “Whereas within the White Home, she was the architect of President Obama’s historic settlement with the U.S. auto trade to double gasoline effectivity requirements. Freeman labored with the Biden transition workforce growing the administration’s local weather motion plan.”
In an article on her website clarifying her firm function, written earlier than her resignation, Freeman says her “unbiased” place on ConocoPhillips’ board was about “serving to to advance the transition to a low-carbon economic system”.
“Within the close to time period, I consider that the oil and fuel trade should be a part of the answer to local weather change”, she says. “To assist drive this alteration, it’s essential that fossil gasoline boards embody unbiased administrators with a robust and knowledgeable local weather perspective.”
“From my seat on the board desk, I take part candidly and forcefully in dialogue, introducing an essential perspective that in any other case can be lacking”, the article provides. “I press for options and progress. No single director can rework any firm or trade, however I consider that I make a constructive distinction, and if I didn’t, I’d not do that work.
“Some folks have claimed that my being on the board creates a battle of curiosity with my college obligations. My work at Harvard is paramount and at all times shall be. However my function on the board is completely per the opposite work I do – instructing, researching, writing, advising, and advocating for local weather coverage, at Harvard and elsewhere.”
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