Climate Change

Published on June 18th, 2017 | by Steve Hanley

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Sweden’s Largest Pension Fund Sells Off ExxonMobil & TransCanada Stock

June 18th, 2017 by  

AP7, Sweden’s largest pension fund, has been at the forefront of the fossil fuel divestment movement for some time. A year ago, it sold off its holdings in 11 coal companies and 8 oil and gas production companies. That brought the total of fossil fuel companies it had divested from to 23 coal and 15 oil and gas enterprises, worth a total investment of nearly $100 million.

At that time, CEO Eva Halvarsson told the press, “In assessing the financial impact of climate risks on portfolio companies, the fund’s concern is to determine whether the risks these companies face have been factored into their market price.

“Both our analysis of fossil-energy companies and our assessment of the energy sector at the close of last year have been conducted in strict adherence to the fund’s stated mission, namely: to take ethical and environmental concerns into account, without abandoning the broad goal of a maximum return on assets. This is why these analyses adopt a financial perspective. Disinvestment from these companies serves to protect the fund’s long-term return on invested assets.”

This week, AP7 announced that it has gone even further and decided to sell its shares in ExxonMobil and TransCanada. The latter is heavily involved in the production of oil from the tar sands found in Alberta. That oil is widely considered the dirtiest source of oil on the planet.

The decision makes AP7 one of the first large pension funds to divest itself of its holdings in ExxonMobil. In addition to Exxon and TransCanada, AP7 eliminated its holdings in 5 other fossil fuel companies.

350.org, the climate change organization founded by Bill McKibben, applauded the divestment news. “Sweden divesting its largest pension from Exxon proves you can’t claim to support climate action while funding and perpetuating climate change. Exxon knew about climate change half a century ago, and continues to sow doubt and bankroll climate deniers. With its core business model dependent on exploiting people and planet for profit, Exxon is in direct violation of the Paris agreement,” said Jamie Henn, strategic communications director for 350.org.

“Meanwhile, TransCanada has been championing disastrous projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, despite massive resistance from Indigenous peoples, farmers, and communities living along its route. As TransCanada attempts to move the risky pipeline forward, the company will face increasing pressure from investors who know these pipelines are a climate and financial disaster.

“With Trump ditching the the Paris agreement, the onus undoubtedly falls on our cities, states, and institutions to take bold climate action: starting with divesting from the companies causing the problem. New York — where the state’s own attorney general is investigating all that Exxon knew — must follow the leadership of AP7 and divest from Exxon and its industry ilk.”

Electric vehicles, peak oil, criminal investigations, divestment — the noose is tightening on the fossil fuel industry. Once institutional investors begin heading for the exits, Exxon will be well on its way to seeing its moment in the sun eclipsed by renewable energy resources.

Image by Mark Rain (some rights reserved)


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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel



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