As Canadian oil firms blacklisted, Trudeau warns climate action is key to investments

Click to play video: 'Norway’s wealth fund excludes oilsands investments over greenhouse gas emissions'
Norway’s wealth fund excludes oilsands investments over greenhouse gas emissions
WATCH ABOVE: Norway's sovereign wealth fund is halting investments in four Alberta energy companies - CNRL, Cenovus, Suncor and Imperial Oil - after concluding they produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Tom Vernon has the details – May 13, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the decision by the Norwegian central bank’s massive wealth fund to blacklist four Canadian energy firms over their emissions shows investors are turning their attention to climate change action as a key metric for gauging where to invest.

During his daily press briefing on Wednesday, Trudeau was asked about the move by Norges Bank Investment Management to exclude Canadian Natural Resources, Suncor, Cenovus and Imperial Oil from their trillion-dollar investment portfolio because of “unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions.”

READ MORE: 4 Canadian energy firms blacklisted by world’s largest wealth fund over high emissions

“We’ve seen investors around the world looking at the risks associated with climate change as an integral part of investment decisions they make,” Trudeau said in response.

“It is so important for Canada to continue to move forward on fighting climate change and reduce our emissions in all sectors. I can highlight that many companies in the energy sector have understood that the investment climate is shifting, and there is a need for clear leadership and clear targets to reach on fighting climate change to draw on global capital.”

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The Norwegian fund is the world’s largest and the exclusion of the firms marked the first time it has used emissions levels as a criteria for blacklisting potential investment opportunities.

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The decision was based on recommendations from the Council on Ethics, the fund’s ethics watchdog, because of the companies’ carbon emissions, from production of oil to oil sands, the central bank said.

Carbon emissions became a criterion for exclusion from the fund four years ago, and in 2017 the Council on Ethics recommended “a small handful” of firms be blacklisted for producing too much greenhouse gas emissions in either the oil, cement and steel sectors.

Norges Bank also excluded three other companies — Egypt’s ElSewedy Electric Co, Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA, and Brazilian power holding Eletrobras — for causing severe environmental damage.

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READ MORE: Oil site cleanup program sees 18,000 applications in 4 days, ‘significantly’ over expectations

The move comes as the Trudeau government has faced questions over whether it will provide something akin to a bailout package for Alberta’s oil and gas sector, which has been devastated in recent years.

Elizabeth May, parliamentary leader for the Greens, and Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet argued last week that “oil is dead” and no federal money should go to propping up the industry.

Trudeau said he did not share their assessment but has tied access to federal emergency funds to require large companies to have a climate action plan, and funded a billion-dollar energy site cleanup and restoration project set to employ thousands of out-of-work oil workers in Alberta.

–With files from Reuters.

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