Medical News Norway to sell off fossil fuel stocks worth more than $8 billion
12 June 2019
Good news for renewable energy firmsChris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Adam VaughanNorwegian MPs have backed a decision to divest the country’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund from oil and gas exploration firms and invest more in renewable energy companies that are not listed on stock markets.
The coalition government had already proposed both measures within the past year, but a parliamentary vote on Wednesday enforcing the policy changes will send an important signal to other countries and fossil fuel companies.
“Today’s decision represents a major victory for us on all three fronts, and a major step in our efforts to limit our nation’s climate risk and contribute to the urgent global shift from fossil fuels to renewables,” said Tore Storehaug of the Christian Democrats, part of the country’s ruling coalition, in a statement.
Oil and gas sell-off
The fund, known formally as the Government Pension Fund Global, will now gradually sell off $8bn in 134 oil and gas firms. But the move will only affect those solely in exploration, such as UK-based Premier Oil, not companies such as Shell and BP which also have renewable energy business arms.
Nor will the investment policy change affect the fund’s stake in Norway’s state oil and gas firm, Equinor, or the country’s ongoing plans to explore and pump more oil and gas in waters increasingly far north.
Following the vote today, shares in coal companies worth around $5.8bn are also expected to be divested.
The final major change is an expansion in the amount that can be invested in wind, solar and other green energy firms. A cap on how much the fund can invest in unlisted renewable energy firms – which account for the majority of the global renewables industry – is to be doubled to 120 Norwegian Kroner (£11bn). All three proposals were passed unanimously.
“This is a monumental cue to governments and investors worldwide that the pace of the change we need to see towards our clean energy future is beginning to pick up,” says Christiana Figueres, the former United Nations climate chief who helped forge the 2015 Paris agreement.
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