<!-- Swiftype Variables -->

Letter-writing campaign

Investors urge firms to avoid arctic refuge

Caribou roam in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where investors want oil and gas companies to refrain from drilling.

A group of more than 100 institutional investors representing $2.52 trillion in assets is calling on oil and gas companies and banks to refrain from initiating developments in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"We are gravely concerned about the climate, financial and reputational risks associated with pursuing a speculative fossil-fuel source that will likely become uneconomical as the world rapidly shifts toward clean energy sources," investors wrote in letters sent to more than 100 oil and gas companies and banks last month.

"Destroying this wilderness area would also have devastating human and ecological impacts," particularly for the Gwich'in people, an Alaska Native tribe that has occupied the region for thousands of years, the investors wrote.

The letters — signed by, among others, the $206.9 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, BNP Paribas Asset Management, Aviva Investors and Boston Common Asset Management LLC — were sent after the Trump administration initiated the process in April to lease part of the refuge for oil drilling.

"Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an exceedingly high-risk gamble that companies and investors should avoid," said Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and trustee of the Albany-based pension fund, in a news release last month. "A global low-carbon economy is emerging, driven by the growing opportunities for cleaner energy. We want our portfolio companies to help build that future, not destroy one of America's last truly wild places."

A spokeswoman for the $150 million Oakland, Calif.-based Sierra Club Foundation, another of the investors, said investors have heard from some of the banks, which said they were reviewing their policies.