Divesting from fossil fuel doesn’t help renewables

Divesting from fossil fuel doesn’t help renewables

Divesting from fossil fuel doesn’t help renewables To push forward the renewable agenda, investors must work with fossil fuel companies, says one industry expert.

Robert Walker, with NEI Investments in Vancouver, B.C. recently said that the Canadian energy landscape is different from the rest of the world, and that the fossil fuel divestment campaign is inapplicable here.

“There are campaigners that want Steve Williams, the CEO of Suncor, to be the Koch brothers. And he isn't the Koch brothers, he's been out there in favour of a price on carbon,” Walker told CBC News. “We do have investments in the oil sector. But we have avoided some companies historically that have denied climate change and opposed any rational policy response.”

Walker explains that due to the unique Canadian market, a more effective strategy to promote the renewable agenda is to invest in traditional fossil fuel companies and to work with them to improve their environmental performance.

Edmonton, Alta.-based Capital Power is one example of a private sector company with a variety of energy projects, with more than 20 wind and solar power plants in North America, while also operating a coal mine and several coal- and natural gas-fired plants.

The concept of socially responsible investing (SRI) has come to the forefront when investors are looking to invest more in environmentally and socially conscious mutual funds in Canada and divest in oil.

According to a recent Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing report, 71 per cent of individual investors are interested in socially responsible investing, while 65 per cent believe that socially responsible investing will become more prevalent over the next five years.
And SRI’s are profitable, says Ryan Colwell, an investment advisor with IPC Investment Corporation.

“It’s a common misconception among advisors to say that mutual funds for socially responsible investments (SRI) are not parallel to non-sustainable investments,” Colwell told WP. “The returns are pretty much the same, despite contrary belief. I hear that a lot but it’s not true.”