In December 2020, PensionBee, an online pension platform, launched its ‘Fossil Fuel Free Plan.’ According to the company’s website, the fund invests in approximately 1,295 companies and ‘excludes the fossil fuel and tobacco sectors while only investing your money in companies aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.’
However, our examination of the plan’s holdings found a number of investments in companies that are directly linked to the fossil fuel sector, through distribution or the provision of infrastructure. Although such holdings do not explicitly contradict the plan’s exclusion criteria, such holdings are likely to alarm some customers that want to keep their ethical pensions well away from the fossil fuel sector.
The plan also held a number of investments in banks, including major funders of fossil fuels, and ethically-dubious sectors including defence and gambling.
Shareholdings linked to the fossil fuel sector
The plan contains a number of holdings that did not necessarily contradict the exclusions criteria as stated below, but were directly linked to the fossil fuel sector, including:
Baker Hughes Company: a US energy technology company providing services and equipment to the oilfield and liquid natural gas sectors. In 2020 it was the sixth largest global oil equipment and services provider by revenue.
China Gas Holdings: a gas operator and service provider based in Hong Kong (though registered in Bermuda) and operating widely across China. In 2020 the Group’s total natural gas sales volume was 12.83 billion m3.
Enbridge: a Canadian company focused on the transportation of oil and gas. The company’s website states: “We move about 25% of the crude oil produced in North America, we transport nearly 20% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S., and we operate North America’s third-largest natural gas utility by consumer count.” In 2020 it was the second largest global oil equipment and services provider by revenue.
Halliburton: a US firm that provides products and services to the oil and gas sector. In 2020 it was the seventh largest global oil equipment and services provider by revenue. It has been embroiled in numerous controversies, most notably in relation to the war in Iraq.
Keppel Corporation: a Singapore-based company providing offshore solutions and services for the oil and gas industry. According to its website: “Keppel Offshore & Marine serves a wide variety of offshore needs ranging from exploration and production to transportation, maintenance and decommissioning.”
ONEOK Inc: a US gas service company. According to the company’s website it is a “leading midstream service provider and own[s] one of the nation’s premier natural gas liquids systems.”
Pembina Pipeline: a Canadian firm that owns oil and gas pipelines, as well as “gas gathering and processing facilities and an oil and natural gas liquids infrastructure and logistics business.”
Schlumberger: a US firm that provides numerous services to the oil and gas industry. Its website states: “From a well’s cradle to grave, and everywhere in between—that is where the people of Schlumberger come in.” It also advertises its services in relation to heavy oil: “We have the expertise and technologies to cover all the reservoir, drilling, completions, and production bases and bring heavy oil recovery within practical reach.” In 2020 it was the fourth largest global oil equipment and services provider by revenue.