Norway Divests From Coal, A Signal To All Big Investors

Taking direction from Norway’s Parliament, the government’s pension fund – the largest sovereign fund in the world – is divesting from coal stocks.

The unanimous decision is making waves across the world because the $900 billion fund is among the top 10 investors in the coal industry, with about $10 billion invested, according to the government.

It requires the fund to divest from companies that earn more than 30% of revenue from coal or produce more than 30% of electricity from coal. It had already decided to pull out of tar sands, cement and gold mining stocks.

"Investments in coal companies can have both a climate risk and a future financial risk," Svein Flaatten of the governing Conservative party told The Guardian

The move could be the final signal other big pension funds need to follow. "Coal stocks are losing money every day. No investment policy that I am familiar with can keep holding stocks in an industry with catastrophic losses and with no realistic case for an upside. Norway has led, and I suspect they will not be alone for long." Tom Sanzillo, previous director of NY State’s fund and now with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told The Guardian. 

Divestment Campaign

Stocks that will be dumped include major utilities around the world, such as the UK’s SSE, in which it has $956 million in shares, reports The Guardian. In the US, it will dump companies like Duke Energy. All told, it affects 122 companies across the world.

Other major investors that made announcements around the same time are the University of Hawaii System (all fossil fuels by 2018), Georgetown University (coal), Goddard College (fossil fuels), and the first statewide system, University of Maine (coal). In England, the University of Edinburgh is done with coal and tar sands.

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