Another Swedish Pension Fund Makes Huge ESG-Focused Divestment

Selling of nukes, tobacco, coal and oil sands holdings follows new law, plus actions of sister fund.

Closely following its sister fund, in accordance with new legislation, Swedish pension fund AP1 has divested from several environmentally harmful categories.

The $1 billion AP1, one of four pension funds that manage the retirement assets of the nation, said it has removed allocations to nuclear weapons, tobacco, coal, and oil sand companies from its investment portfolio “since the beginning of the year.”

This comes days after a previous such move by another Swedish pension fund, AP4, which also announced it would divest from nuclear weapons and oil sand firms. The legislation, which went into effect January 1, required these steps.

In the meantime, though, the funds are also supposed to log substantial long-term returns.

“The common value base states that the principle of legality means that the AP funds must take into account the international conventions that Sweden has ratified and the international agreements that Sweden has supported,” AP1 said, adding that these agreements form the guidelines of which assets the funds should avoid.

Since each fund interprets how its portfolio is affected by the guidelines, the decisions will vary. AP4 already had the jump on its sister fund by fully divesting from coal last year.

The fund eliminated coal and oil sand companies because the two businesses “have the worst climate impacts,” which makes it universally harder to achieve the low-carbon climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

AP1 cut the nukes because it does not believe “the modernizations and upgrades of existing” weapons are in line with the nation’s aspirations for an eventual nuclear-free world.

As for the tobacco removal, the organization said these investments are not consistent with the “spirit” of the  international anti-smoking group’s strictures. The Tobacco Control Convention aims to significantly reduce tobacco consumption as well as the effects of smoking.

The Swedish government annually reviews the decisions of the fund. The spring 2020 evaluation will analyze the first year with the new law.

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