The world’s biggest wealth fund was built on Norway’s oil and gas production revenue. Now, the fund is shifting course and taking a stand against global warming by excluding some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies from its portfolio.
The fund, which owns about 1.5 percent of all listed oil stocks, is seeking to take a more ethical approach to its investments. The exclusions include some of the world’s largest coal mining companies and oil-sands firms such as Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc, utility RWE AG and Canadian oil producer Suncor Energy Inc. The total amount of dropped fossil fuel investment is estimated to be $3.3 billion.
The fund already had a ban on investments in tobacco and restrictions on firearm investments tied to human rights issues, but this newest shift comes after heavy lobbying from environmental activists. In addition to fossil fuels, the fund has dropped iron-ore giant Vale SA for repeated dam breaches that have led to hundreds of lives lost.
While large wealth funds are certainly not to be hailed as warriors for ethical justice, large-scale divestment from fossil fuels is imperative to break dependence on dirty energy sources and encourage investment in renewables. Despite the economic equity implications of wealth funds, these restrictions on fossil fuel investments from the world’s largest is a signal to the financial world that environmentally-conscious changes need to come from all sectors of the economy.