Its stocks in some of the world’s biggest oil companies and miners that have been held responsible for lobbying against climate action have been dumped by a Nordic hedge fund worth more than $90bn.
As a part of its new climate policy aimed at companies that use their political clout to block environment protection policies, its stocks from miner Rio Tinto as well as US oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron have been divested by Storebrand, a Norwegian asset manager.
There are many other major financial institutions that have dumped their stocks in polluting industries. This however is being viewed to be the first case where such divestment of stocks have been done for companies that are viewed to lobby and use their clout to try and speed of climate action.
Corporate lobbying efforts that are aimed at undermining the solutions to “the greatest risks facing humanity” is “simply unacceptable”, said Jan Erik Saugestad, the chief executive of Storebrand.
Its holdings in German chemicals company BASF and US electricity supplier Southern Company will also be divested by Storebrand as well as from those companies that generate more than 5 per cent of their revenues from coal or oil sands.
“We need to accelerate away from oil and gas without deflecting attention on to carbon offsetting and carbon capture and storage. Renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are readily available alternatives,” he said.
“The Exxons and Chevrons of the world are holding us back,” he added. “This initial move does not mean that BP, Shell, Equinor and other oil and gas majors can rest easy and continue with business as usual, even though they are performing relatively better than US oil majors.”
According to the climate lobbying watchdog InfluenceMap, an effort to slowdown and potentially derail the European Green Deal was attempted at a meeting between ExxonMobil lobbyists and key European commission officials in the weeks before it was agreed.
Storebrand is also anticipating that its peers will also follow suit and start top dump their stocks from companies that support anti-climate lobbying “as part of a logical progression in global fossil fuel divestment”, Saugestad said.
About $200m a year is spent in lobbying to delay, control or block policies to tackle climate change by five of the largest listed oil companies – including Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total, InfluenceMap has previously found.
The highest spend on lobbying activities is done by BP, the analysis found. A landmark environmental law was successfully weakened by the company through lobbying with US policymakers. The result was the path for launching of new projects was cleared which included projects such as oil pipelines and power plants. The company managed to convince the policy makers to reduce the degree of federal review bout the environmental impact of such projects.
But a major review of its lobby group memberships is being conducted by BP under its new chief executive, Bernard Looney. The company has already broken up with three associations because of disagreements over their climate-related policies and activities.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)