Norway Stops Investment in Coal Companies

Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget)’s finance committee ruled that sovereign wealth fund — also known as the oil fund — would not invest in companies that get at least 30 percent of their revenue from mining coal.

The decision is expected to be formally approved by the Parliament on June 5 because both government and opposition parties supported the decision.

“Coal is by far the biggest source of greenhouse gases, so this is a big victory for the climate,” said committee member Torstein Tvedt Solberg from Labor Party.

The move was welcomed by environmentalists who have estimated the fund’s coal holdings at about $11 billion. It wasn’t immediately clear how much of those investments would be affected.

The fund previously had ruled to cut investment in coal mines in China and companies who are involved in weapon manufacturing and building projects in Israeli-occupied territories. 

About Government Pension Fund Global

The Government Pension Fund – Global (Norwegian: Statens pensjonsfond – Utland, SPU) is a fund into which the surplus wealth produced by Norwegian petroleum income is deposited. The fund changed name in January 2006 from its previous name, The Petroleum Fund of Norway. 

The fund is commonly referred to as The Oil Fund (Norwegian: Oljefondet). As of the valuation in June 2011, it was the largest pension fund in the world, although it is not actually a pension fund as it derives its financial backing from oil profits and not pension contributions. As of September 30th 2013 its total value is NOK 5.11 trillion ($828.66 billion), holding one percent of global equity markets.

The purpose of the petroleum fund is to invest parts of the large surplus generated by the Norwegian petroleum sector, generated mainly from taxes of companies, but also payment for license to explore as well as the State’s Direct Financial Interest and dividends from partly state-owned Statoil. Current revenue from the petroleum sector is estimated to be at its peak period and to decline over the next decades. 

The Petroleum Fund was established in 1990 after a decision by the country’s legislature to counter the effects of the forthcoming decline in income and to smooth out the disruptive effects of highly fluctuating oil prices.

The Petroleum Fund’s Advisory Council on Ethics, established 19 November 2004 by royal decree, observes the activities of the fund according to ethical guidelines.

According to its ethical guidelines, the Norwegian pension fund cannot invest money in companies that directly or indirectly contribute to killing, torture, deprivation of freedom, or other violations of human rights in conflict situations or wars. Contrary to popular belief, the fund is allowed to invest in a number of arms-producing companies, as only some kind of weapons such as nuclear arms, are banned by the ethical guidelines as investment objects.

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