Swiss National Bank drops coal mining from currency reserves

December 18, 2020|Written by Camilla Schramek|Swiss National Bank

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) will exclude coal mining companies from its foreign currency reserves, SNB Governor Thomas Jordan announced at a news conference on December 17, 2020. 

“In Switzerland, a broad consensus has formed in recent years in favour of phasing out coal,” Jordan said. “We have therefore decided that we will, from now on, exclude all companies primarily active in the mining of coal from our portfolios.”

The move follows an analysis of the SNB’s fossil fuel investments that found the bank is responsible for 43.3 million tonnes of CO2eq emissions per year – almost as much as Switzerland’s total emissions of 47 million tonnes. The bank’s CHF900 billion portfolio supports a warming trajectory of 4 to 6°C by 2100 – far beyond the safe 1.5ºC target of the Paris agreement.

Climate Alliance Switzerland (CAS), an alliance of over 80 Swiss environmental groups, welcomed what it called a “small step”. It also called on the SNB to drop oil and gas companies as well and to recognise the Paris agreement as a guideline for its entire investment policy.

A CAS report published in April 2018 recommended nine specific policy actions that the SNB could take to green its operations and recognise climate risk while preserving financial stability. These included the exclusion of the top publicly-traded fossil fuels companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list

However, the bank has been slow to act on climate change and the Swiss financial system is still heavily invested in fossil fuel companies.

This page was last updated April 30, 2021

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