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Norway’s Largest Private Asset Manager Divests in Chevron, Exxon for Lobbying Against Climate Action

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Norway’s Largest Private Asset Manager Divests in Chevron, Exxon for Lobbying Against Climate Action
A fire burns at the ExxonMobil Olefins Plant in Baytown, Texas on July 31, 2019. michelmond / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

A Norwegian hedge fund worth more than $90 billion has become the first major financial institution to divest from companies that lobby against action on the climate crisis, The Guardian reported Monday.


Storebrand, as the fund is called, is the largest private asset manager in Norway, according to Reuters. As part of its new policy, it dumped its shares in major U.S. oil companies ExxonMobil and Chevron, as well as in mining giant Rio Tinto and German chemical company BASF.

"The Exxons and Chevrons of the world are holding us back," Storebrand chief executive Jan Erik Saugestad told The Guardian.

Storebrand announced the divestments as part of a wider set of new climate policies Monday.

In addition to divesting from companies that lobby against the Paris climate agreement and climate change regulations, the fund will also:

  • Make investment decisions in line with scientific consensus and the goals of the Paris agreement
  • Divest from companies that make more than 5 percent of their revenues from coal or oil sands
  • Make decisions that maintain nature's ability to store carbon dioxide, with a special focus on stopping deforestation
  • Increase investments in low-carbon companies
  • Connect with energy companies with a view towards encouraging them to transition towards renewable sources
  • Provide regular progress reports
  • Inform clients about low-carbon, sustainable investment funds

"We aim to maintain our position as a leading provider of sustainable solutions," Saugestad said in a statement. "With this policy we will excel and improve our work on climate and greening the financial system. We will use all the tools at our disposal, including divestment, investing more in solutions and engaging with companies in order to achieve substantial change."

The divestment, completed this year, represented a small share of the fund's assets, Bloomberg News reported. The fund divested a total of $47 million, almost half of it from Exxon and Chevron.

In response, both oil companies said they supported the goals of the Paris agreement and are investing in low-emission technologies.

"[Exxon] is focused on the dual challenge of meeting the growing demand for energy and minimizing environmental impacts and the risks of climate change," spokesman Casey Norton told Bloomberg News in an email.

Chevron, meanwhile, said it was considering a shareholder vote that would encourage transparency around climate lobbying.

UK nonprofit InfluenceMap has reported that Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP and Total spend around $200 million a year working to delay or block climate policies, according to The Guardian. While the fund did not divest from major European oil companies like BP or Norway's own Equinor, they are not off the hook.

"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," Saugestad told The Guardian.

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