Norway’s $870 billion sovereign wealth fund announced the findings of a government commission Wednesday of its current coal, oil, and gas investments, stating that the most harmful of these climate offenders would be excluded from the Fund on a “case-by-case basis.”
“We believe active ownership and engagement are appropriate primary tools for the [fund] to use to address climate-related issues,” the Ministry of Finance wrote in a press release Wednesday. Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance propose that the fund will continue to support relevant climate change research.
Just as multinational energy company Siemens confirmed in September, Norway’s wealth fund will not be stepping away from fossil fuel investment, believing it to be an important “part of the energy mix for decades to come.” On top of that, the Ministry of Finance does not believe that the Fund should be used as a climate policy instrument, calling it both “inappropriate and ineffective.”
Therefore, the Ministry’s aim is to become “good” owners of assets, “from a financial and ethical perspective,” believing these to be “the appropriate primary tools for the [fund] to use to address climate-related issues.”
As such, Norway’s Ministry of Finance is proposing the creation of a new criterion be included in the Fund’s Guidelines for Observation and Exclusion — a “contribution to climate change” clause that would “allow for exclusion of companies on a case-by-case basis where there is an unacceptable risk that the company contributes to or is responsible for acts or omissions that, on an aggregate company level, are severely harmful to the climate.”
The move is an important step forward for the region, and one that could spark similar moves across the neighbouring European Union. Such movement forward is important. In a world where only the extreme position is heard, it is difficult sometimes to understand the reality of a situation. Those condemning all fossil fuels are content upon their mountain of evidence, but the reality is that we cannot simply do away with all fossil fuel generation tomorrow. On the other side, those making the call to repeal all renewable energy projects are living with their head in the sand.
The middle ground is the only feasible option moving forward, and investment behemoths like national wealth funds are often seen as leaders in these situations.
“The recommendation is that this is dealt with through active ownership and improved reporting on managing climate risk – an approach we hope will deliver meaningful results if considered alongside climate constraints,” said James Leaton, Research Director for Carbon Tracker. “We look forward to seeing how the Fund demonstrates it is diverting capital expenditure away from expanding fossil fuel use, thereby avoiding stranded assets.”
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