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Funding fossil fuels, weapons, tobacco: Tracking cos barred by investors, banks

BankTrack Newswire 

A coalition of NGOs has launched the Financial Exclusions Tracker, a new website that tracks which companies are being excluded by investors and banks for sustainability reasons. Most excluded corporations are barred due to links to fossil fuels, weapons or tobacco.
This public dataset is the first of its kind. It aims to inform investors and banks, civil society and media about which corporations are blacklisted by investors. The tracker lists a total of 4,532 companies that have been excluded by 87 financial institutions in 16 countries.
The coalition expects the list to put additional pressure on those identified companies to change their practices. Local communities, civil society, investors and governments can use the list to identify the companies with the largest Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks, as flagged by investors themselves.

Climate as most common reason for exclusion

The most common motivation for excluding companies is climate/fossil fuels (40%). This is followed by controversial weapons (17%) and tobacco accounting for 12% of exclusions. The fourth most prominent reason for exclusion is human rights (7%). Concerns around business practices are a fifth main motive for exclusion. The companies most excluded by investors and banks are:
  • Climate change (mainly fossil fuel companies): 1 Cenovus Energy; 2 Suncor; 3 China Energy; 4 ExxonMobil; 5 Shandong Energy;
  • Controversial weapons (cluster munitions, nuclear etc.): 1 Poongsan; 2 Northrop Grumman; 3 General Dynamics; 4 Larsen & Toubro; 5 LigNex1;
  • Tobacco: 1 Philip Morris; 2 Altria Group; 3 British American Tobacco; 4 Imperial Brands; 5 Japan Tobacco;
  • Human Rights: 1 Energy Transfer; 2 Vale; 3 Walmart; 4 OCP Group; 5 ConocoPhillips;
  • Business practices (corruption, tax evasion, etc): 1 JBS; 2 Gazprom; 3 Elbit Systems; 4 China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC); 5 Kangmei Pharmaceutical.
The company most excluded is Poongsan Corporation from South Korea, which is blacklisted by a total of 75 investors and banks due to its involvement in cluster munitions. Fossil fuel companies do not only feature prominently in the climate category, but also in the categories relating to human rights violations and controversial business practices.

Website shows original motivation for exclusion

The Financial Exclusions Tracker comes with a downloadable full data set in Excel, wherein the original motivation for excluding each company by the financial institution can be found, if provided by the financial institution. It will be updated on a regular basis, as investors and banks regularly add and remove corporations from exclusion lists. The data set is searchable by company, by investor, by country of investor, by country of company, by category and by subcategory for exclusion.
Financial Exclusions Tracker is an initiative by: BankTrack, Both ENDS, Fair Finance International, Forests & Finance, Health Funds for a Smokefree Netherlands, Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands), PAX, Profundo Research Foundation, Rainforest Action Network, and the Environmental Paper Network.

Quotes

“This dataset shows for example that JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker and one of the largest drivers of deforestation and rights violations in the Amazon, is also the most excluded company in the category “business practices. This should be a red flag for anyone considering doing business with the company”, said Merel van der Mark, coordinator of the Forests and Finance Coalition
“We welcome the fact that several financial institutions exclude companies due to the links with detrimental climate impacts from financing. It demonstrates that some financials are willing to take steps to reduce their financed emissions, and we hope more financial institutions follow this example", said Peer de Rijk, campaigner Paris-proof corporations at Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands).
“This database is a very valuable source of information for the financial sector, media and civil society. Extra due diligence is required for companies who appear in this database. We request investors to share their Exclusion Lists with us, so that this database can be regularly updated”, said Kees Kodde, project lead Fair Finance International.
“Annually, the tobacco industry is responsible for more than 8 million deaths worldwide and has a reputation for deception and deceit. It is an industry in which one should not want to invest. This database will hopefully inspire other parties”, said Hans Snijder, director of the Health Funds for a Smokefree Netherlands.
“Public exclusion is a very important way for investors to exercise influence when companies do not listen to their sustainability demands. This tool helps to amplify investor positions and increases the pressure on companies to act”, said Jakob König, leader of Fair Finance Sweden.
"Our advocacy with investors will be empowered by this new database, and it allows us to better help people affected by the bad behaviour of companies violating human and environmental rights", said Cindy Coltman, Senior Policy Officer of Both ENDS (the Netherlands).
“Banks and other investors are well advised to carefully consult this new Exclusion Tracker as part of their overall due diligence procedures on new clients, as these exclusions by other institutions result from similar vetting procedures that have brought to light unacceptable aspects of those companies’ performance. Such exclusion may well be a good reason for a bank to follow their example”, said 
Johan Frijns, executive Director of BankTrack (Netherlands).

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