A group of major investors with a combined asset base of more than €5trn have called for an “unlimited moratorium” on oil and gas activity in the Arctic high seas.
The 19-strong group is being led by French responsible investment specialist Mirova and its parent Natixis Asset Management and pension fund investors ERAFP, Ircantec and Prefon (full list of signatories below). The “urgent call” to protect the region from future oil exploration – and align with national climate change plans – is being directed not just to oil & gas companies but also to counties involved in the Arctic Council.
The Arctic Council is the intergovernmental forum comprising Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the US. The body – currently chaired by the US – is set to launch its Arctic Resilience Final Report on November 25. At a meeting in Portland, Maine last month the body says it “undertook a wide-ranging” discussion of its work on climate change and looked ahead to the COP22 meeting in Marrakech. It recognises that the “integrity of Arctic ecosystems is increasingly challenged”.
Philippe Zaouati, CEO of Mirova, Natixis’ responsible investment arm, said the aim is to “involve both companies and policymakers so as to take the Arctic issue to the next level and seek greater protection for the region”.
The investors want the Arctic countries to take into account national climate pledges before granting new licenses or extending existing ones. And they want states to apply stricter criteria to ongoing oil and gas activities, restricting approval to those with “minimal operational risks” and which strengthen the involvement of indigenous populations. Link energy firms involved in the region are being asked to commit to a voluntary moratorium on drilling in Arctic marine waters covered by ice – due to current technological uncertainty in terms of the effectiveness of oil recovery mechanisms.
Companies should also avoid exploration in areas identified by the Arctic Council as bearing heightened ecological significance, independent of legal status.
Finally, oil companies are called on to disclose their licenses held in the region, including “location and expiry date”.
Bank J. Safra-Sarasin
BNP Paribas Investment Partners
Church of Sweden
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Pax World Mutual Funds
Trillium Asset Management