Sweden’s largest pension fund, AP7, announced last week that it had divested all its investments in six separate companies that it says had violated the Paris Climate Agreement, including big name companies such as ExxonMobil, Gazprom, and TransCanada.
AP7 provides pensions to 3.5 million Swedish citizens, making it the country’s largest national pension fund. Last week, the group announced that it had divested itself from six companies it believed had violated the Paris Climate Agreement in different ways. Specifically, AP7 accused ExxonMobil, Westar, Southern Corp, and Entergy of fighting against climate legislation in the United States, Gazprom for exploring for oil in the Russian Arctic, and TransCanada for building large-scale pipelines across North America.
“Since the last screening in December 2016, the Paris agreement to the U.N. Climate Convention is one of the norms we include in our analysis,” AP7 said in a statement.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, the companies involved have added their own voice to the discussion. In an emailed statement to news outlets, ExxonMobil said that it respectfully disagrees with the decision of AP7, “which has not communicated to us its evaluation process. We have been vocal in our support of the Paris climate agreement, which we believe is an effective global framework for mitigating the risk of climate change.” And, to be fair, ExxonMobil has definitely loudly proclaimed its support of the Paris Climate Agreement, both when Rex Tillerson was its CEO, and afterwards, when Tillerson had moved on up in the world to be the new US Secretary of State.
However, environmental groups are less forgiving of ExxonMobil’s efforts.
“Sweden divesting its largest pension from Exxon proves you can’t claim to support climate action while funding and perpetuating climate change,” explained Jamie Henn, Strategic Communications Director for global grassroots climate movement, 350.org. “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.”
Earlier this month, 350.org highlighted new documents from the New York State Attorney General — as part of a larger investigation as to whether ExxonMobil misled the public and investors — which showed that, while Tillerson was CEO of ExxonMobil, the company “actively misled shareholders about climate risk” and deleted “untold numbers” of documents relating to climate change — including many emails sent under Tillerson’s now-famous email alias, Wayne Tracker. More recently, ExxonMobil has found itself under mounting pressure to report on its impacts on climate change, and shareholders recently voted 62.3% in favor of such reporting.
“Exxon’s climate lies are finally catching up with them,” said Jamie Henn, earlier this month. “The company is facing public protest, shareholder anxiety, multiple investigations, and a growing divestment campaign. They can try and run from this issue, but they can’t hide. Sooner or later, this company will be held accountable for their role in destroying our climate and putting our entire future at risk.”
US energy company Entergy also expressed its disappointment in AP7’s move to divest, adding that it was “unfortunate in light of the fact that the rationale for the decision seems to be unfounded. Entergy has aggressively advocated for smart carbon policies for more than a decade,” the company said in an emailed statement. “In 2016, our CO2 emissions were approximately 20 percent below our year 2000 emissions.”
The other companies seem to be remaining tight-lipped on AP7’s announcement, but for 350.org, it’s all fair in love and fossil fuel warfare, and these companies are only reaping what they deserve.
“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,” continued Jamie Henn. “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.”