Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says news that one of the world's largest investment funds will exclude four Canadian oilsands producers from consideration for investing is part of a continuing shift in global attitudes for which oil companies will have to adjust.

On Wednesday, Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages Norway's sovereign wealth fund, announced it would stop investing in Calgary-based Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., Cenovus Energy Inc., Suncor Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. after concluding they produce unacceptable levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

It also excluded three other non-Canadian companies, two over environmental concerns and one for human rights reasons. It said its holdings in all of the companies have been sold.

"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 Wednesday in Ottawa.

"That is why it is so important for Canada to continue to move forward on fighting climate change and reduce our emissions in all sectors, and 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."

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said, "To be blunt, I find (the decision) incredibly hypocritical.

"Norway is actually engaged in exploring to develop new massive offshore fields to increase their production of oil, so we're not going to be lectured to by a state sovereign wealth fund 100 per cent of whose primary revenues are generated by oil development."

The fund said it is following its Council on Ethics' recommendations in making the decisions. It listed the council's reasons for its outlook for the four oilsands companies individually but the four summaries of reasons were almost identical.

In each case, the council said the producer should be excluded "due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to or is itself responsible for actions or omissions which, at the aggregate company level, lead to an unacceptable level of greenhouse gas emissions."

It added each company has "a substantial output of oil from oil sand (sic) resources in Alberta, Canada," and declares that such production results in "far higher greenhouse gas emissions than the global average."

Norway's wealth fund excludes oilsands investments over greenhouse gas emissions

It says the companies have no specific plans to reduce emissions to an acceptable level "within a reasonable period of time" and adds their GHG emissions are not subject to a regulatory regime as stringent as the European Union GHG emissions trading system.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Norges Bank’s decision to blacklist four Canadian energy companies is "poorly informed and highly hypocritical."

"Canada’s energy producers have some of the highest environmental, social and governance standards (ESG) in the world," she said in an email.

Savage added that Alberta-based companies are doing their part with active strategies to reduce emissions.

"When it comes to the environment, Alberta’s overall average oil sands emission intensity has decreased 19 per cent from 2011 to 2017 alone, with further reductions anticipated in the coming years through industry led innovation."

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers criticized the bank's move, noting that the industry is making environmental progress as the country's leading investor in environmental protection and innovation.

"Attempts to stifle Canadian production by restricting financing can have only one effect; countries with lower environmental standards — and in many cases lower social, human rights and governance standards — will fill the void," said association CEO Tim McMillan.

The Canadian oil companies were not immediately available for comment.

All are on record as saying they have reduced GHG emission intensity in recent years and some have set targets for more reductions.

Suncor and Cenovus have said they will reduce emission intensity per barrel by 30 per cent by 2030 and Cenovus has said it will aim for zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Canadian Natural has pledged to work toward a zero-emissions target without giving a specific date, using technology to improve efficiency and earning credits through its carbon capture and storage operations.

Imperial says it reduced the carbon intensity of each oilsands barrel by more than 20 per cent between 2013 and 2018, and is developing technologies that could reduce intensity by 25 to 90 per cent for future oilsands production.

Norges Bank says it's the first time that GHG emissions have been used as the reason for excluding companies on ethical grounds.

However, it has warned since 2017 that the Canadian oilsands producers could be excluded because their emissions are higher than the global average.

"One of the largest investors in the world is saying the oil sands emperors have no clothes when it comes to action on climate change, so they're out," said Greenpeace Canada senior energy strategist Keith Stewart in an email.

"This is the way the world is heading."

The investment exclusion comes as oilsands producers are cutting spending plans, salaries, production and dividends because of a dramatic decline in prices for their products as well as limited pipeline capacity to transport it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2020

— With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ, TSX:CVE, TSX:SU, TSX:IMO)

Keep reading

what do you call withdrawing investments from tarsands companies?

A good start.

I just pass over anything said by Kenney, McMillan, Savage . "blah blah how dare they " sums it up.

see: liz may's fact check yesterday.

by comparison, ARTS is the third biggest employer in the country. Where's the $5B subsidies for that sector , which generally does not poison into extinction the land, water, air in the making or when used as intended!

Planet Earth doesn't care about emissions per barrel. Oilsands TOTAL emissions do nothing but climb year after year. AB's emissions show no sign of falling.
Total emissions are what matter. If production increases faster than emissions per barrel falls, total emissions go up!
Previously, oilsands emissions intensity decreased in part because less mined bitumen is being upgraded at home in favor of more raw dilbit exports. This simply transfers emissions to downstream refineries in the U.S. An accounting trick.

The upstream carbon intensity argument also ignores the fact that most of this oil will be combusted at the consumer end. With our preference for large vehicles, Canada already has the worst vehicle fuel economy in the world. Canada’s vehicles have the highest average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per km driven (IEA). Canada’s vehicles are the largest and the second heaviest in the world.
No intensity savings on the horizon there.

"Vehicle choice seems lost in the concerns for the environment" (Calgary Herald, January 20, 2020)

As one study after another shows, the industry grossly under-reports its emissions (of all types).
Increasing production will continue to overwhelm any technological improvements.
Oilsands expansion will prevent Canada from meeting its inadequate targets for decades.

CNRL, Cenovus, Suncor, and Imperial Oil are all members of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).
"Producer Members"

Not only are the big 5 oilsands producers responsible for most of the year-by-year increase in total oilsands emissions, but, as members of CAPP, they also support CAPP's lobbying efforts.
CAPP recently called on Ottawa to suspend or roll back environmental regulations, climate action, and lobbying laws.

"Oil lobby group asks Trudeau government to suspend environmental, lobbying laws due to COVID-19" (Global News, Apr 17, 2020)

"Freeze carbon tax, delay new climate regs during virus crisis, oil lobby asks" (Canadian Press, 17-Apr-20)

"Canadian oil lobby’s demands to skip environmental monitoring put public health at risk, experts warn" (The Narwhal, Apr 24, 2020)

The AB Govt has already complied with the oil & gas industry's demands:
First, with reporting:
"8 environmental responsibilities Alberta’s oil and gas companies can skip because of coronavirus" Apr 27, 2020

Next, with monitoring:
"Alberta suspends environmental monitoring rules for oilsands over COVID concerns" (Edmonton Journal, May 6, 2020)

Climate criminals, one and all.

Thank you, Geoffrey Pounder, for this extensive summary of the wheedling and greasy begging for laxer environmental monitoring that's gushing out of oil sands producers and their servile lapdogs, the paid lobbyists. They could all be wearing a collar with this tag written by Alexander Pope for courtiers in his time:
" I am His Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?"

"I will not be lectured by ...."

This, by the most well known lectern pounding ranter in the nation.

A simple Google search on CO2 / equivalent emissions per capita between oil-producing jurisdictions with reasonably similar populations ...

Alberta: 64.03 tonnes (2017)
Norway: 9.43 tonnes (2018)

Trudeau is now tipping his narrative slightly more toward dealing with climate change. Given his past two-faced performance, I wouldn't trust his words until they are backed by real policy and action. The federal Liberals seemed to have gotten the message from the last election: fool us once, shame on us. You won't fool us twice.

But Kenney's government is in an entirely different league. They are so drunk on oil that they are stubbornly dragging Alberta hard into a gutter-level long-term depression signified by knee-jerk comments that disregard the sound analysis of international investors pulling out of the Alberta gong show, Norge being only one.

The average Albertan won't know what to do as the 10-year anniversary of their downturn draws nigh, right about the time of the next Alberta election and when cheap electric vehicles appear on Calgary's streets by the thousands, inexpensive renewables ramp up to double digit percentile replacement of fossil fuels in the marketplace, and worldwide climate change mitigation really gets going.