Environmental organization Greenpeace is hailing Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which was built up on oil revenues, for excluding four oil companies because their emissions are too high. All four extract oil from controversial tar/oil sands projects.
Norway’s own state oil company Statoil (now Equinor) was also active in oil sands projects in Alberta, Canada until protests over their environmental effects and poor profits prompted Statoil to finally sell them off in 2016, at a heavy loss. Those losses have been among many others suffered during Statoil/Equinor’s controversial expansion in the US and Canada.
The four oil companies now excluded include Canadian Natural Resources Ltd, Cenovus Energy Inc, Suncor Energy Ince and Imperial Oil Ltd, all because of “unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions” from the production of oil from oil sands.
“This is fantastic news and something Greenpeace has worked on for a long time,” stated Martin Norman of Greenpeace Norway in a press release on Wednesday. He noted that it marked the first time Norway’s Oil Fund has excluded conpanies based on the climate criterion approved by the Parliament in 2015.
“It’s about time the Oil Fund and the Ministry of Finance have finally decided how this (climate) criterion should be applied,” Norman stated. “This was a necessary first step to remove some of the biggest climate offenders from the Oil Fund.” The Oil Fund has already been excluding or refusing to invest in companies that generate 30 percent or more of their revenue from coal.
The Oil Fund also announced exclusions of ElSewedy Electric Co and Vale SA “after an assessment of the risk of contribution to severe environmental damage.” ElSewedy was excluded because of its participation in the development of a hydropower project in Tanzania. Vale was excluded as a result of “repeated dam breach,” according to a press release from Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the Oil Fund.
The executive board of NBIM also decided to exclude the company Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (Electrobras), “because of unacceptable risk that the company contributes to serious or systematic human rights violations” in connection with the development of the Belo Monte power plant in Brazil. All exclusions were based on recommendations from Norway’s Council of Ethics that guides Oil Fund investments.