$1.6trn investor group engages with authorities on Canadian oil sands monitoring

Letter sent to federal and provincial ministers

A group of 38 global investors with combined assets of $1.62trn (€1.2trn, C$1.6trn) has written to the Canadian provincial and federal authorities reiterating their call for an independent governance structure for monitoring oil sands development.
The investor signatories to the letter – coordinated by Canadian mutual funds firm NEI Investments – include major institutional asset owners such as APG Asset Management, the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), the BT Pension Scheme Management, Mn Services, the Ontario Pension Board, the OPTrust and PGGM.
The letter was sent late last month to Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent and his Alberta counterpart Diana McQueen. It follows the governments’ announcement in February that they were working together on a “phased and adaptive approach” to monitoring to ensure the region is developed in an environmentally responsible way.

The investor letter follows earlier letters drawing attention to concerns about environmental and social impacts from oil sands development.

“Controversy and conflicting information about the extent of potential impacts create unwelcomeuncertainty for both companies and their investors,” the investors say – adding that they welcome the plan for expanded and scientifically credible monitoring.

But they are concerned that the governments will have oversight of the monitoring system, which is at odds with the recommendations of the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, a group of independent experts. Its report last year had called for an “arm’s-length monitoring commission”.

“The monitoring system should be beyond reproach”

“We believe that the long-term credibility of the monitoring system will rest on the establishment of an independent governance structure guided by science,” the signatories write. “We feel strongly that this will contribute to both the actual quality of the monitoring system, and the public perception of its quality.
“It is essential that the governance model for the monitoring system should be beyond reproach – all the more so because of the atmosphere of mistrust that has been generated by conflicting information on oil sands impacts. Link to investor letter