Criticism of investments by the National Bank
«The SNB acts like a climate denier»
New estimates by the Climate Alliance are intended to clarify the impact of central bank investments on climate change.
Shell oil production has left an oil swamp in the Niger Delta.
Dana LiechtiEditor Sunday view
The Swiss National Bank SNB continues to heat up the climate crisis. At least that’s what the climate alliance claims, an alliance of more than 140 organizations – including WWF, Pro Natura and the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions.
Lack of transparency of the SNB
For the first time, Climate Alliance has made estimates for all of the SNB’s investments. “She manages shares worth around 203 billion US dollars,” says Stephanie Wyss, a member of the Climate Alliance office. “For 23 percent of this investment sum, it is not known in detail which shares are held with it” – i.e. with an investment volume of around 47 billion US dollars.
“Despite the lack of transparency, an estimate can also be made for this part of the investments because the SNB invests passively and thus replicates broad market indices.” The climate alliance is publishing the result on the meine-snb.ch website. “In this way, anyone interested can get an idea of the companies in which the SNB invests,” says Wyss – including corporations that are among the largest CO2 emitters in the world. It is incomprehensible that the central bank invests in such companies: “It acts like a climate denier.”
Investments in oil and gas exploration
Among other things, the SNB holds shares in the oil and gas producers Shell and Repsol, which have caused serious environmental damage and violated human rights. Shell’s many years of production has turned the Niger Delta in Nigeria into an oil swamp, and protests by the local population have been violently suppressed.
Just last year, Repsol caused one of the biggest environmental disasters in Peru in the South American country, when around two million liters of crude oil spilled into the sea.
SNB emphasizes that it has not violated its investment guidelines
From the point of view of the climate alliance, the SNB is violating its own investment guidelines by investing in companies such as Repsol. In these, the central bank states that it does not purchase securities from companies that “massively violate basic human rights” or “systematically cause serious environmental damage”.
It is also disturbing that the SNB could actually influence their climate strategy through the “enormous blocks of shares” that it holds in such companies, but does not do so, says Wyss.
When asked by SonntagsBlick, the SNB emphasized that it had not violated its investment guidelines. The legislature deliberately did not give it the mandate to use its investment policy to influence the development of certain economic sectors.
In addition, the SNB does not invest in companies whose business model is mainly based on the mining of coal for energy production – because there is a broad consensus in Switzerland about phasing out coal. The SNB: “There is no such thing with oil and gas.”