$1.2trn investor group in plea over Alberta oil sands monitoring

Group of responsible investors write to new oil sands panel

A group of 26 leading global institutional investors with a combined heft of $1.2trn (€820m) in assets have entered the debate about a new oil sands environmental monitoring scheme in Alberta, Canada.

The group, led by NEI Investments, has written to the co-chairs of the new Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, Howard Tennant and Hal Kvisle. They say the system should be “beyond reproach”.

“To contribute to the mitigation of long-term investor risk, the monitoring system should produce credible information, and be backed by a credible process,” the group state. “Anything less will result in continuing uncertainty for companies and investors alike.”

They want public disclosure not only of the data gathered, but also transparency about the selection of the governing body, its funding and decision-making.

The investors include domestic Canadian institutions like Bâtirente and the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation as well as international players such as the Netherlands’ APG and PGGM, Sweden’s AP buffer funds and Norway’s Storebrand (full list below).

The panel, set up by Alberta’s Environment Minister Rob Renner earlier this year, is due to issue a report laterthis month following consultations with stakeholders including Aboriginal groups. It will look at how to monitor, evaluate and report on water, air, land and biodiversity – with a focus on the Lower Athabasca River Basin.

“Controversy and conflicting information about the extent of oil sands environmental impacts creates unwelcome uncertainty for investors,” the investors added. They fear investee companies becoming exposed to a risks like operating restrictions, reputational damage, loss of ‘license to operate’ and litigation on health or Aboriginal treaty rights.

Full signatory list

NEI, AP1, AP2, AP3, AP4, APG, Bâtirente, BCIMC, Calvert Investment Management, Canadian Labour Congress, Catherine Donnelly Foundation, Compensation Employees’ Union, Ethix SRI Advisors, Ethos Foundation, F&C Management, Green Century Funds, Miller/Howard Investments, OceanRock Investments (Meritas), PaxWorld Management, PGGM, Robeco, Sisters of St. Ann, Storebrand, The Sustainability Group, Vancity Investment Management, VIP (Vereinigung Institutionelle Privatanleger)