Sweden’s central bank has sold its Alberta Government bonds and declared it will no longer invest in assets with high carbon footprints, even if they offer solid financial yields.
Sveriges Riksbank, the world’s oldest central bank, also announced it had dropped some of its bonds from two states in coal-intensive Australia.
“Australia and Canada are countries that are not known for good climate work. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the highest in the world,” said Deputy Governor Martin Floden. “As a result of the new investment policy, we sold our holdings of bonds issued by Alberta in the spring. For the same reason, we have recently sold our holdings in bonds issued by the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia.”
He said various Canadian and Australian bonds previously represented about 8% of the bank’s foreign exchange reserves.
A spokesperson for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney responded with the province’s standard claim that it “has the highest environmental standards in the world”, with a fossil industry striving to reduce its environmental footprint. “If the Swedish central bank is really concerned with making a difference on climate change, they need to be investing more in ethical producers such as Alberta which have shown dramatic gains in reducing emissions,” Christine Myatt said.
“Central bankers aren’t your typical tree huggers, so Canadian politicians should take note when they start blacklisting government bonds over climate concerns,” replied Greenpeace Canada Senior Energy Strategist Keith Stewart.
Reuters notes that the Bank of Canada has been focusing more on climate change as a risk to the economy and financial systems, and stronger government action on the climate crisis could put fossil companies’ valuations at risk. “This could pose more problems for Alberta, which is already hurting from five years of low crude prices and pipeline constraints,” the news agency adds.