Eight months after becoming the first capital city to divest from coal, Oslo has announced it intends to divest its pension fund from all fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas.
According to Fossil Free Europe, which reported the news Monday, the City of Oslo announced that it intends to divest its $9 billion pension fund from coal, oil, and gas companies. (For those bilingual Norwegians out there, the Oslo City Council declaration is available here (PDF).)
And while Oslo isn’t the first city to announce such a divestment, it does go down as one of the biggest announcements, as it is the first capital city to fully divest from all fossil fuel investments.
“We are very happy to announce that Oslo will take responsibility for the climate, both through our own policies and our investments,” said Lan Marie Nguyen Berg, of the Green Party in Oslo.
“The time for climate action is now, and the new city government will address climate change both locally and globally. The reduction in pollution will make the city even better to live in, and ensure that we take our global responsibility. Divestment sends a strong message to the world prior to the Climate Change Conference in Paris that we need a strong agreement that will ensure that we avoid dangerous global warming.”
Go Fossil Free keep an updated version of all those institutions — including cites such as the City of Christchurch in New Zealand, Fremantle and Moreland in Australia, and now Oslo in Norway, among more than 40 others — that have made such commitments. Go Fossil Free’s total figures currently have $2.6 trillion divested by 452 institutions worldwide.
The news comes eight months after the City of Oslo announced that it would divest its $7 million investments in coal following a massive demonstration by residents as part of Global Divestment Day.
At the time, Olso’s finance commissioner, Eirik Lae Solberg, explained that the city had made the decision to divest from coal “because power generation based on coal is one of the most environmentally harmful in the energy sector,” adding that “we want to use our investments to promote more environmentally-friendly energy and a more environmentally-friendly society.”
Speaking on Monday, Ms Nguyen Berg echoed these sentiments, and further explained the rationale for fully committing from fossil fuel investments:
“This is also a sound financial decision. Heavy investments in fossil fuels is a huge risk when we know that the majority of fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Norwegian economy is already experiencing the downsides of being dependent on fossil fuel exports, with unemployment rates rising following the drop in oil prices, and investment costs rising sharply on the Norwegian shelf. This policy change will protect our pensions from being invested in stranded assets.”
The move comes ahead of the much-anticipated UN climate negotiations set to be held in Paris next month, and will no doubt encourage many other countries to push their own capitals to follow suit.