A $ 91 billion Nordic asset manager has abandoned investments in ExxonMobil, Chevron and miner Rio Tinto to protest their lobbying on climate change issues.
The Storebrand move is believed to be the first example of a large investor explicitly disengaging from oil producers and miners for allegedly lobbying against stricter environmental standards.
“Climate change is one of the greatest risks facing humanity and the lobbying activities that undermine action to resolve this crisis are simply unacceptable. The Exxons and Chevrons of the world are holding us back, ”said Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Storebrand.
It also offloaded Southern Company, the US energy supplier, and BASF, the German chemical group. He had about $ 27.2 million invested in the five companies.
Climate lobbying is emerging as a new battleground for institutional investors as companies and trade organizations of which they are members attempt to influence governments to stop moving away from fossil fuels.
This year, a majority of Chevron shareholders backed a resolution demanding additional climate-related lobbying disclosures by the oil major.
Similar proposals from Australian energy companies Santos and Woodside Petroleum have also received strong support from investors.
Overall, average support for climate lobbying proposals around the world was 47.2% this year, up from 21.4% in 2019, according to Proxy Insight, data providers.
“We anticipate that our peers will also adopt new policies like this as part of a logical progression in the global divestment from fossil fuels,” said Saugestad.
He added that Storebrand, one of the first asset managers to set up a sustainable investment team, would keep the pressure on other fossil fuel-dependent companies to change their behavior.
“BP, Shell, Equinor and other oil and gas producers cannot sit still and go about their business as usual. We need to accelerate away from oil and gas. Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, are readily available alternatives, ”he said.
Storebrand also withdrew from 22 additional companies that do not comply with a new, strengthened climate policy that was unveiled on Monday.
He sold holdings worth around $ 17.9 billion, including positions in Japanese Mitsui, Kansai Electric Power (Kepco) and Chubu Electric Power (Chuden), deemed too slow to exit coal.
“Investors must be responsible and proactive to accelerate the green transition. We are not passive actors who wait for the imminent systemic damage climate change will cause to ecosystems, societies and economies, ”said Saugestad.
Chevron said its board is considering a recent shareholder proposal calling for increased disclosure on climate change lobbying and is working to take appropriate action to address investor concerns.
Southern Company said its board of directors and management have actively engaged with various investors to understand their views on its business and have provided Storebrand with the same opportunity.
ExxonMobil, Rio Tinto and BASF did not respond to requests for comment.
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