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Campaigners urge Norway’s oil fund to divest from coal

fossil fuel subsidies

Creative Commons: 2011

Campaigners from around the world joined forces this week to call on Norway’s giant oil fund to divest from fossil fuels.

In a global Twitterstorm, NGOs urged the Norwegian government to divest the fossil fuel assets from their sovereign wealth fund – the world’s largest – starting with companies burning and mining coal.

The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), founded on the nation’s oil and gas resources, is now worth $867 billion in total.

The fund has already divested in some fossil fuel companies, both because of risks of stranded assets and the products high environmental damage. Companies dumped by the fund include Peabody Energy, the mountain-top-removal companies Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources and Coal India.

But while Norway continues to work for a just and strong global climate deal, and makes progress towards fully powering itself with renewable energy, its sovereign wealth fund continues to get richer from decades of exploiting oil and gas reserves and remains heavily invested in dirty fossil fuels.

The fund still have over $10 billion in companies that mine and burn coal – one of the dirtiest and most polluting fossil fuels – making up around 1.2% of the funds investment portfolio.

It remains one of the ten largest coal investors in the world.

A series of analyses have shown existing coal, oil and gas reserves are several times the amount that can be burned whilst keeping global warming under the internationally agreed 2C limit.

A recent study found 80% of coal reserves would have to be kept in the ground and many high-profile figures and institutions, including the World Bank, Bank of England, HSBC, Goldman Sachs and Standard and Poor’s, have warned that only a fraction of known fossil fuel reserves can be safely burned and that the remainder could be left unburnable, with their value plummeting in value.

Responding to this threat, the divestment movement is calling for institutions around the world to halt their investments in climate destructive fossil fuels.

And this week the attention has turned to Norway.

Over the next two months, the Norwegian Parliament will make an assessment on its oil funds investment policy, with a vote expected on the policy in June.

A majority in the Parliament is in favour of coal divestment, and the move is also supported by two out of three Norwegians.

This offers the parliament a unique opportunity to stop profiting from climate disasters, and potentially having a domino effect for other investments.

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