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Global financial giants stop funding production from destructive oil sands

The New York Times reports:

Some of the world’s largest financial institutions have stopped putting their money behind oil production in the Canadian province of Alberta, home to one of the world’s most extensive, and also dirtiest, oil reserves.

In December, the insurance giant The Hartford said it would stop insuring or investing in oil production in the province, just weeks after Sweden’s central bank said it would stop holding Alberta’s bonds. And on Wednesday BlackRock, the worlds largest asset manager, said that one of its fast-growing green-oriented funds would stop investing in companies that get revenue from the Alberta oil sands.

They are among the latest banks, pension funds and global investment houses to start pulling away from fossil-fuel investments amid growing pressure to show they are doing something to fight climate change.

“If you look at how destructive oil sands can be, there’s a very strong rationale,” Armando Senra, head of BlackRock’s iShares Americas funds, said in an interview, saying that the oil sands, along with coal, are “the worst offenders, if you want, from a climate perspective.”

Despite the pressure from foreign investors, oil-sands production has continued to increase in part because local Canadian banks and pension funds have remained willing to lend. And, as Alberta’s government is quick to point out, some of the same companies pulling away from oil sands are continuing to invest in oil projects elsewhere in the world including in countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, the clash over foreign divestment in Alberta — and the strong response it has provoked from local leaders — suggests the potential for the financial industry to influence climate policy if firms follow through on their early pledges to incorporate climate change into their investment strategies. [Continue reading…]

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