The top banker in western Europe’s biggest oil producer says she’s ready to fight the growing number of activists pressuring her to stop funding the petroleum industry.
Kjerstin Braathen, the chief executive of Norway’s biggest bank, DNB ASA, says fossil-fuel divestment and exclusion are “dangerous” ways to try to reduce carbon emissions. Her main argument is that cutting the flow of cash to Norwegian producers would allow less scrupulous actors to step in, and ultimately impede the transition to sustainable fuel.
“It could be a dangerous strategy if the result is that we are building up more gray markets that are not regulated, that are not transparent, that aren’t impacted by regulation,” Braathen said in an interview. She also says that “this isn’t only about oil and gas.”
There’s evidence to suggest that companies that end up on some exclusion lists easily find new sources of finance. A variety of funds, including some of the world’s biggest, already are stepping in to fund fossil fuel projects as banks pull out, often buying portfolios at a discount.
Share prices can come out unscathed. Commodities giant Glencore Plc, for example, was dumped by the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund, Norges Bank Investment Management, in May last year. Since then, its share price has soared about 130% as Vanguard Group Inc. and others boost their stakes.