An investment fund manager in The Netherlands with US$183 billion in assets is adding 232 fossil producers to its “exclusion list”, after declaring it won’t get involved with companies that draw more than 25% of their revenue from thermal coal or tar sands/oil sands operations or 10% from Arctic drilling.
The list of companies Robeco International Asset Management is giving up on includes Aboitiz Equity Ventures in the Philippines, Zhengzhou Coal Industry and Electric Power in China, and American Electric Power and Westmore Coal in the United States, BNN Bloomberg reports.
“The exclusion list has grown significantly,” said Robeco Senior Engagement Specialist Peter van der Werf. “It represents a group of companies where it’s very difficult to drive significant change through engagement.”
Bloomberg says Robeco’s preference is to work with companies and use its influence as an investor to push for policy shifts from within. The news story cites Royal Dutch Shell and Italian fossil Enel as companies that have moved in the direction of decarbonizing their operations, driven in part by shareholder action.
“This shows once again that engaging with companies we invest in works, and that this is a powerful mechanism, and a key differentiator in bringing change to help combat major challenges such as climate change,” said Robeco Head of Active Ownership Carola van Lamoen, following Shell’s big reveal earlier this year.
Bloomberg notes that Robeco is no stranger to attaching ethical screens to its investments. “First, it went after companies involved in ‘controversial behaviour’ and ‘controversial weapons’,” the news agency states. “Then a tobacco exclusion was implemented in 2018, followed by palm oil in 2019 and energy polluters in 2020. In all, there are now more than 350 companies that Robeco avoids.”
It also eschews government debt from Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Syria, and a dozen other countries. But still, Robeco “prefers engaging with companies than selling their shares because it’s the more effective way to get companies to behave responsibly,” Bloomberg says.