Wednesday

21st Oct 2020

Norway bans pension fund from coal investment

  • Companies that receive more than 30 percent of their revenue from coal-fired power plants, will be banned from Norway's pension fund (Photo: BiLK_Thorn)

The Norwegian parliament has unanimously voted on Friday (5 June) to ban its pension fund from investing in coal companies, a decision which will lead to the largest politically motivated withdrawal of funds from the fossil fuels sector.

The fund will be forbidden to invest in “mining companies and power producers for whom a significant part of their business relates to coal used for energy purposes”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The parliament decided that 'a significant part' means having 30 percent or more of revenue from coal, and/or having 30 percent of activities in coal mining or power.

Norway's finance minister estimated that between 50 to 75 companies that are currently being funded by the pension fund could fall under the criteria for the ban, and that an investment of 35-40 billion kroner (€4 -4.6 billion) is involved.

Greenpeace however estimated a far higher number and said 122 companies fall under the new criteria, worth 67.2 billion kroner (€7.7 billion).

Coal is the most polluting of fossil fuels.

The 6.9 trillion kroner (€791 billion) fund is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, and perhaps ironically is the result of Norway's surplus income from another fossil fuel: oil.

All of Norway's political parties had already agreed they would support the ban.

“Investing in coal companies poses both a climate risk and a future economic risk”, the parties noted in a common statement last week.

“This is a clear signal to those who use coal that they have to look at other forms of energy,” centre-right Norwegian MP Hans Olav Syversen told public broadcaster NRK.

Environmental organisations have praised the decision.

“This is the biggest divestment action to date from the coal industry and sets a new standard for investors worldwide,” said Greenpeace.

Divestment refers to the opposite of investment: removing funds that is being used for a particular sector. The past years have seen a rise in the so-called fossil fuel divestment movement.

The Dutch centre-left governing Labour party this week also put divestment on the agenda. MP Jan Vos, the party's energy spokesperson, said Dutch pension funds should divest away from fossil fuels.

Norway's oil capital braces for change

Stavanger, a city which has flourished because of the oil industry, starts to see the need to diversify. Meanwhile, a green movement has gathered momentum.

EU apathetic on fossil fuel divestment

Organisations around the world have pledged to remove €2.3 trillion in investments from oil, gas, and coal companies. However, MEPs have yet to convince political leaders to hold a debate about it.

EU seeks to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030

The European Commission unveiled the EU's "renovation wave", aimed at doubling the renovation rate of existing buildings in the decade, and creating five new 'European Bauhaus' hubs across the EU, where architects and engineers can collaborate on green projects.

EU Commission methane plan lacks binding agriculture targets

The new European Commission strategy on slashing methane emissions focuses first on obtaining better data. Critics say it is a missed opportunity to impose targets and other binding measures on agriculture, the largest single emitter.

Investigation

Hydrogen - the next battlefield

Part Two of Investigate Europe's long-form examination of the EU gas industry looks at hydrogen - touted as the clean, green, future. But with NGOs sidelined, and industry leading the push, how sustainable is it really?

News in Brief

  1. Ireland first EU state to re-impose full lockdown
  2. EU countries agree farm policy reform
  3. EU corona-bonds attracted huge demand
  4. France seeks Putin's help on counter-terrorism
  5. Cyber attacks 'targeted health system during pandemic'
  6. Greece asks EU countries to halt military exports to Turkey
  7. Covid-19: Spain considers curfews in hardest-hit areas
  8. Study: Air pollution costs Europeans €1,276 per year

Opinion

Europe has forgotten the 'farm' in 'Farm to Fork'

US secretary of agriculture Sonny Perdue argues that the EU is taking an approach "more based on 'political science' than demonstrated agricultural science" in its new Farm to Fork strategy.

Green Deal

MEPs vow to fight lowering of bee-protection standards

MEPs warned on Thursday that they will once again object any proposal from the European Commission that lowers the bar for bees and other pollinators protection - since the process to renew EU bee guidance is still ongoing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. 'Big majority' of citizens want EU funds linked to rule of law
  2. EU declares war on Malta and Cyprus passport sales
  3. EU Commission's Libya stance undercut by internal report
  4. Backroom deal will make CAP reform a catastrophic failure
  5. EU money used by neo-Nazi to promote Holocaust denial
  6. Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition
  7. EU's Brexit move could end deadlock in talks
  8. EU's migrants more at risk from coronavirus

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us