Norwegian pension fund and insurer Storebrand says it has excluded an additional 19 coal and oil sands companies from its investment portfolio and Holland-based Rabobank told Dutch newspaper Trouw it will no longer lend money to companies involved in shale gas extraction, or make loans to farmers who rent their land to shale gas extraction companies.
Christine Tørklep Meisingset, head of sustainable investments at Storebrand, says the aim of these exclusions is to reduce Storebrand’s exposure to fossil fuels and to secure long term, stable returns for the pension fund’s clients. If global temperature rise is limited to 2 degrees Celsius, many fossil fuels will become unburnable, reducing their financial value, Meisingset says. She say exposure to fossil fuels is one of the main sustainability challenges facing business.
The firm doesn’t offer “ethical funds,” but rather applies sustainability standards to every company and sector, Storebrand says. To date, Storebrand has excluded 177 companies and 32 countries for breaches of the company’s minimum standard for sustainable investments.
Meanwhile, Rabobank told the Amsterdam daily paper that it “does not want to contribute to energy which it believes to be polluting,” according to Presseurop.
The news site says Rabobank’s decision will primarily affect the bank’s business in the US, where it’s a leading lenders to farmers who lease their land for shale gas extraction.
The financial institutions’ announcements come as more than 400 university campuses and dozens of cities and states worldwide have campaigns underway to push for fossil fuel divestment, according to 350.org, a group founded by environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben. The group says it expand its Fossil Free campaign to Europe “and beyond” in October.
However, colleges and universities divesting from fossil fuel companies are not affecting large electric, oil, and gas companies, Bloomberg reported last month. This is because college and university endowments represent less than 1 percent of total global invested assets – about $1 trillion of $150 trillion total invested assets. The schools choosing to divest have not been impacted financially, either.