By Zoe Caron
On Friday, the Government of Norway announced it would be launching an expert committee to do a year-long review on the carbon exposure of their sovereign wealth fund. Carbon exposure is about looking at the climate change impact of investments in things like coal, oil and gas.
This proposal comes as a response to the opposition party’s proposal to end coal investments. While the review offers a broader scope than the original proposal, it now delays clear action on coal.
If the Government of Norway wants to send one clear signal that it is serious about climate change, it would start by relinquishing investments in coal. This decision, which will be made official in the proposal put forward tomorrow, means Norway may be giving up what is a chance to take one concrete step forward.
“While the broader review is necessary and welcome, there is no reason why a clear move away from coal could not be made immediately,” says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway.
The energy infrastructure in place by 2017 may make or break climate change, warns the International Energy Agency. Three quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector, and 45% of these are caused by coal.
Jim Yong Kim, World Bank President, called on all long term investors like pension funds to “recognize their fiduciary responsibility to future pension holders who will be affected by decisions made today,” in relation to exposure to climate risk.
This year the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments. Norwegian private pension fund provider Storebrand has divested from 29 coal and tar sand companies in the past year because of their obvious carbon exposure.
“Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is the world’s largest, with over 700 BN USD in assets. When Norway acts – either on divestment from coal, or investment in renewables – there is no question that it’ll set the bar for investors globally to follow suit,’’ says Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative.
As WWF and others have proposed, the Government of Norway has already promised to consider a mandate to invest directly in renewable energy infrastructure.
Zoe Caron (email@example.com), based in Oslo, Norway, is a senior climate campaigner working on WWF’s global Seize Your Power Campaign which calls on investors to reduce their investments in fossil fuels and to increase their spending on renewable energy. Read more about the campaign here