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Fri Aug 9, 2019, 09:31 PM

Big Money Starts to Dump Stocks That Pose Climate Risks

Big Money Starts to Dump Stocks That Pose Climate Risks

After years of meetings and shareholder resolutions, some funds are starting to simply divest from coal and oil stocks.

By Kelly Gilblom at Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-08-07/big-money-starts-to-dump-stocks-that-pose-climate-risks

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As the risks of climate change have become more pronounced, so have efforts by major investment firms to push companies in greener directions. They tried talking. Then they started backing shareholder resolutions. Now, LGIM is at the forefront of a more aggressive, and controversial, tactic: divesting. “You cannot have the same conversation for 15 years with no results,” Omi explains. (Exxon responded to LGIM’s announcement by saying that it publishes an annual tally of emissions from its operations and is on track to meet targets for reducing methane emissions.)

Momentum is gathering, says Mark Lewis, who leads climate change investment research for Paris-based BNP Paribas Asset Management. He likens it to the divestment campaign that forced companies participating in apartheid-era South Africa to change course, and he invokes the spirit of Gandhi: “They’ve ignored us and laughed at us. I think now they’re fighting us. So next we win.”

But he knows it won’t be easy. In March, as he helped the BNP Paribas press team put the finishing touches on an announcement that its actively managed funds would exit almost €1 billion ($1.1 billion) of coal stocks as early as next year, he thought the news might cause a few “ripples” and not much more. In fact, Lewis was bombarded with emails and calls, not all of them polite. “It surprised me how big the reaction was,” he says.

Lewis, who earlier in his career was a utilities analyst at Deutsche Bank AG and deputy head of investor relations for German power company EON SE, had formed close business relationships, even friendships, with coal executives. He says the decision to cut coal was painful, but ultimately he had to face the economics.



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