The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has sold $3 billion worth of energy and other companies that it believes are seriously damaging the environment.
3 billion in shares sold
Most of the inventory sold in the energy sector goes to Canadian companies that produce and distribute oil from the Alberta oil sands. According to the CBC, Norges Bank Investment Management, which is managed by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced Wednesday that it would stop investing in Canadian Natural Resources, Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy, and Imperial Oil after noting that they were producing unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
The decision was based on recommendations from the Ethics Council, the fund’s ethics watchdog, due to carbon emissions. Four years ago the fund decided to make carbon emissions one of the exclusion criteria of its investment strategy.
In 2017, the ethics board recommended that a small handful of oil, cement and steel companies be blacklisted for producing too many greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the four Canadian oil companies, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has excluded three other companies because of the severe environmental damage they have caused. The three companies in question are: the Egyptian company Elsewedy Electric CO, the Brazilian iron ore company Vale SA and the Brazilian company Eletrobras.
Trudeau says we must adapt
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau said at a press conference:
“We have seen investors from around the world consider the risks associated with climate change as an integral part of the investment decisions they make. That’s why it’s so important that Canada continues to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors. I can report that many energy companies have realized that the investment climate is changing and that clear leadership and targets to address climate change are needed to leverage global capital.
Buying an oil pipeline that Canada does not want and cannot use may not be such a clear example of leadership, but we cannot expect national leaders to be perfect.
Alberta responds with contempt
Alberta, which has built its entire economy on providing the world’s most polluting energy, was shocked and outraged by the announcement. His energy minister called the boycott “ill-informed and very hypocritical”. Sonya Savage, Member of the Alberta Legislature issued a statement saying, “Canada’s energy producers have some of the highest environmental, social and governance standards in the world. A recent review of these standards placed Canada (led by Alberta’s energy sector) third behind Norway and Denmark. In terms of the top ten oil exporting nations, Canada ranks first, well above the rest.
Alex Pourbaix, CEO of Cenovus, said his company is focused on its environmental footprint. “Pulling investment out of the oil sands and claiming it is for climate change reasons is more about publicity than fact. Canvas has reduced the GHG emissions intensity of our oil sands operations by 30% over the past 15 years. And we’ve set ambitious goals to reduce our emissions intensity by 30% by 2030 and hold absolute emissions steady over that time.”
What we are really seeing here is another issue at the heart of the oil industry that needs to disappear in order to be replaced by renewable energy. This is the only way to give people today hope of leaving a livable world to their grandchildren. The world is fully capable of thriving on renewable energy and electric vehicles.