(COMMON DREAMS) Jon Queally, March 9, 2019
In a move that climate campaigners say should send a “shockwave” through the global oil and gas industry, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund—the largest of its kind in the world—has recommended the Norway government divest the entirety of the fund’s $40 billion holdings from the fossil fuel industry.
“If [proposal passes through parliament it will produce a shockwave in the market, dealing the largest blow to date to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it.”
—Yossi Cadan, 350.org
In a statement on Friday, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen explained the decision is meant to “reduce the vulnerability” of the Norwegian fund “to permanent oil price decline.” With an estimated $1 trillion in total holdings, Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund is the largest publicly held investment in the world. According to a spokesperson for the finance ministry, the fund currently has roughly 66 billion Norwegian krone ($7.5 billion) invested in energy exploration and production stocks—approximately 1.2% of the fund’s stock portfolio.
The recommendation from the Norwegian fund will now be sent to the nation’s parliament for approval.
Climate groups that have pushed aggressively for divestment from the fossil fuel industry in recent years as a key way to decrease the threat of greenhouse gases and runaway global warming celebrated the announcement as a possible crucial turning point.
“We welcome and support this proposal,” said Yossi Cadan, senior divestment campaigner at 350.org, “if it passes through parliament it will produce a shockwave in the market, dealing the largest blow to date to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it. The decision should sound like a red alert for private banks and investors whose oil and gas assets are becoming increasingly risky and morally untenable.”
Bill McKibben, one of the group’s co-founders, called it a “huge, huge, huge win.”