Coal companies dumped by world’s largest sovereign wealth fund | WWF
Coal companies dumped by world’s largest sovereign wealth fund

Posted on 13 May 2020

BERLIN, Germany (13 May, 2020) – The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund today announced the exclusion of five global coal companies based on an assessment against the fund’s new stricter coal criteria, “unacceptable emissions” and damages to UNESCO’s world heritage sites.

Four other companies were put under review after being assessed against the stricter coal criteria.

Reacting to the news, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy practice said: “The move by the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund to exclude major coal companies from their investment portfolio sends a strong signal about the need to remove all coal from our energy systems by 2050.

“As governments consider how they will provide ambitious revised national climate plans to the UN this year, and as they devise their stimulus packages for the current economic crisis, it will be prudent to note that ‘unacceptable emissions’ as a measure of performance is becoming the ‘new normal’ for investors.

“Getting out of fossil fuels, especially coal, and scaling up clean, renewable energy is essential if we are to make meaningful progress in tackling the climate crisis.”

Elizabeth Aceituno, acting leader for WWF’s global Finance Practice said: “Institutional investors and asset owners have an important role to play in leading the transition to a low carbon economy. So we welcome the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund's decision to implement criteria that explicitly account for climate and environmental impacts. While the resulting divestments are small in relative terms, they are meaningful in reflecting a long term vision that we hope will inform many investment decisions and ultimately pave the way for the fund to align its portfolio with Paris Agreement commitments.”  

Else Hendel, Interim Policy Director in WWF-Norway said: “This is a great day! The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has finally divested from the biggest coal companies - including Glencore and RWE. WWF-Norway has fought for this for many years.

“The fund has also used climate criteria to divest from the major tar sand companies - Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Suncor Energy Inc og and Imperial Oil Limited - due to their ‘unacceptable’ greenhouse gas emissions. This is the right step forward and investors like the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund and others should stay away from the most polluting companies, and instead invest in the green transition.”

Jesse Fahnestock, WWF’s global energy transition lead said: “This is confirmation of what we already know: coal’s time as a dominant energy source is over, and its disappearance from our energy systems is accelerating in much of the world. Hopefully the divestment trend can help turn the tide in Asia, where investment in coal power remains the most serious threat to global climate action.”

Notes for Editors:
  1. In 2018, coal-fired electricity accounted for 30% of global emissions.
  2. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that coal-fired electricity must end by 2050 if we are to limit global warming to 1.5˚C. 
  3. The fund is excluding 5 large coal companies and placed 4 companies (on the observation list. 
  4. The Fund has excluded the power company ElSewedy Electric which is building a hydropower plant which the Funds Ethical Council says will “cause irreversible damage” to the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. The fund has excluded 5 companies because of carbon emissions from production of oil to oil sands. It is the first time this criterion is being applied. 
  5. The fund is excluding mining and power companies that:
  • derive 30% or more of their income from thermal coal
  • base 30% or more of their operations on thermal coal
  • extract more than 20 million tonnes of thermal coal per year
  • have a coal power capacity of more than 10 000 MW from thermal coal
For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods mwoods@wwfint.org
Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, dumps coal companies from its investment portfolio.
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