The Oslo-based fund generated $123 billion in returns last year, marking its second-best performance ever thanks in large part to tech stocks. Some of its biggest losses, however, were tied to holdings of oil companies and exiting stocks focused on oil exploration and production. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Nicolai Tangen has made clear he wants to focus more on sustainability to fight everything from pollution to corruption and sexism.
The fund said the 15 stocks it excluded from its portfolio last year were singled out based on ethical considerations ranging from human rights violations to severe environmental damage. It exited another 32 firms due to its assessment of basic environmental, social and governance risks, it said, without naming the companies.
Built from Norway’s North Sea oil and gas riches, the fund holds about 1.5% of all listed companies globally.
The fund invested in 225 companies in the oil and gas sector last year, down from 311 in 2019. Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc were among the worst-performing investments, it said.
While the fund wants the companies it invests in to have clear targets for emissions reductions, it hasn’t explicitly asked them to reach net zero emissions by 2050, according to Ihenacho. The companies’ goals still have to be compatible with the Paris Agreement, with the fund focusing on their planned path toward the targets, she said in an interview.
“Our expectations are well anchored towards zero in 2050,” Ihenacho said. “What’s important to us is to understand how the companies think they will get there. One thing is to say that there should be zero in 2050. We are concerned with the short-term and medium-term and long-term goals. We believe this is just as important.”
Asked about a recent adoption of portfolio-warming metrics by the French insurer and investor Axa SA, Ihenacho said that rising temperatures “is just one” of the target figures the fund includes in its assessment of climate risks.
Here’s the full list of 2020 exclusions:
- AGL Energy Ltd
- Anglo American Plc
- Glencore Plc
- RWE AG
- Sasol Ltd
- ElSewedy Electric Co
- Vale SA
- Canadian Natural Resources Limited
- Cenovus Energy Inc
- Imperial Oil Limited
- Suncor Energy Inc
- Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA
- Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp
- Formosa Taffeta Co Ltd
- Page Industries Ltd
Earlier exclusions of Drax Group Plc, AECOM and Texwinca Holdings Ltd were revoked, while four companies including BHP Group Ltd were placed on an observation list.