Indigenous people 'convince Norwegian pension fund to ditch investment in Dakota pipeline'

Chloe Farand
A banner flies in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

Norway’s second largest pension fund has decided to withdraw investments from companies linked to the controversial Dakota access pipeline project, which is backed by Donald Trump.

Pension fund for the public sector KLP has announced that it will sell shares worth £55m from four companies, which own part of the project and are building the pipeline “due to an unacceptable risk of contributing to serious or systematic human rights violations”.

The Sami Parliament in Norway, which represents the indigenous Sami people, convinced the pension fund to divest in an act of international solidarity between indigenous people, according to the Guardian.

Activists at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation have spent months staging massive protests against the £3bn project, which would carry oil over 1,900 kilometres from North Dakota wells, through South Dakota and Iowa, to a shipping port in Illinois.

Protesters say the construction and size of the Dakota access pipeline would put the reservation’s only supply of drinking water at risk of oil spills and contamination as well as harm sacred sites. There is also concern that it would lead to increased carbon emissions.

The firms excluded from KLP's investments include Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Enbridge Energy Partners, Phillips 66 and Marathon Petroleum.

According to financial disclosures, Mr Trump owned approximately $15,000-$50,000 stock in ETP, the company overseeing the majority of construction of the pipeline, but sold it sometime in the last half of 2016.

He also owned and then sold his shares in Phillips 66, according to CNBC. The CEO of ETP contributed more than $100,000 to President Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party.

KLP’s decision to sell its shares also come after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples concluded earlier this month that the approval of the Dakota access pipeline was granted "without an adequate social, cultural or environmental assessment" and in "the absence of meaningful consultation or participation by the tribes".

“This has been a difficult case. In making the decision to divest, KLP places significant emphasis on the UN Special Rapporteur's assessment, a previous recommendation on exclusion from the Council on Ethics for the Government Pension Fund Global, as well as the lack of progress through active ownership” said Annie Bersagel, Acting Head of Responsible Investments at KLP.

Vibeke Larsen, president of the Sami parliament, told the Guardian: “We feel a strong solidarity with other indigenous people in other parts of the world, so we are doing our part in Norway by putting pressure on the pension funds.”

The Sami, also called Lapps, are the only indigenous people of Scandinavia recognised and protected under the international conventions of indigenous peoples. They live in the Arctic area of Sápmi in the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia’ Kola peninsula.

They live from reindeer herding and fishing and have also fought their own battles against mineral resources extraction and mining on their land.

KLP's move comes after Norway financial service company Storebrand also sold all its shares in companies supporting the Dakota access pipeline and Nordic bank Nordea has banned any investment in companies supporting the project.

Green MP Caroline Lucas has repeatedly called for UK banks HSBC and Barclays to stop funding the Dakota access pipeline.

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