In March 2018, the Council on Ethics recommended that RWE AG be excluded from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) due to an unacceptable risk that the company was contributing to or was itself responsible for actions or omissions that, at the aggregate company level, led to an unacceptable level of greenhouse gas emissions.
In its recommendation, the Council attached importance to the fact that RWE is a major European producer and distributor of electrical power. The company also has Europe’s highest greenhouse gas emissions and a higher level of emissions per unit of power produced than its competitors. The company has, moreover, a large number of power plants fired by brown coal (lignite), which is the type of coal that produces the highest greenhouse gas emissions, and no specific plans for bringing its emissions down to the level of its competitors within a reasonable period of time.
Due to uncertainty about how the climate-related criteria were to be understood, Norges Bank did not consider the substance of this recommendation. RWE did not fall within the scope of the coal criterion’s definition of a power producer and could therefore not be excluded under this criterion. This has subsequently changed, and RWE was excluded under the coal criterion in May 2020. At the same time, the Council therefore withdrew its recommendation under the climate criterion.
The Council on Ethics submitted its recommendation 18 March 2018. The Council withdrew its recommendation on 12 May 2020.