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$20B Danish Fund Ditches Oil Supermajors Over Climate Concerns

The US$20-billion Danish fund MP Pension said on Tuesday it is excluding the world’s largest oil companies from its portfolio, looking to secure long-term returns for investors and to take responsibility for the green energy transition.  

MP Pension is selling its shares in ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, PetroChina, Rosneft, Royal Dutch Shell, Sinopec, Total, Petrobras, and Equinor—equal to US$94.5 million (644 million Danish crowns), or two-thirds of the fund’s investments in the oil industry, because, the fund says, none of those ten companies has a business model compatible with the Paris Agreement.

While the total amount in oil stocks that the fund will divest is not that much, the dumping of shares in those ten supermajors is a significant shareholder move from a pension fund, after Norway’s US$1-trillion fund—the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund—said in November 2017 that it recommended the removal of oil and gas stocks from its equity benchmark index to make Norway’s wealth and economy less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices.

The Norwegian fund, however, will not be ditching Big Oil, for now, after compromises and subsector changes in the index provider FTSE Russell that Norway uses as a reference. The initial proposal of dumping more than US$35 billion of oil stocks has been now narrowed down to stakes in purely exploration and production companies worth a total of less than US$6 billion—and also worth less than the fund’s stake in Shell alone.

In recent years, shareholders have been stepping up pressure on the world’s top oil companies to start addressing climate change risks and set emission reduction targets if the world is ever to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

According to the Danish fund’s statement on Tuesday, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, and Equinor have examined possible climate scenarios, while ExxonMobil, Chevron, PetroChina, Rosneft, Sinopec, and Petrobras show no or very limited signs of taking climate change seriously. Despite their public support to the Paris Agreement, companies continue to oppose more stringent climate regulations, MP Pension said. 

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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