Norway’s $885 billion sovereign wealth fund will stop investing in companies that emit an “unacceptable” amount of greenhouse gases, the government announced on Friday.
The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) will adopt “new conduct-based exclusion criterion aimed at acts and omissions that, on an aggregate company level, to an unacceptable degree entail greenhouse gas emissions,” Norway’s Finance Ministry said on its website.
The new mandate is not limited to specific sectors or types of greenhouse gases, and it stops short of ending investment in coal and oil, the latter of which has helped the fund become the world’s largest.
“Energy is an input used in virtually all economic activity, and access to energy is thus of decisive importance to global welfare and development … (and therefore) ethically motivated exclusion of all coal and petroleum companies based on their products would not be appropriate,” the ministry said.
The ministry will not liquidate the fund’s exiting fossil fuel-related investments, but rather use the threat of exclusion to pressure companies into cleaning up their acts.
“Political bodies have adopted ethically motivated criteria for the exclusion of companies from the GPFG. Some of these criteria are based on which products companies produce, whilst others are based on the conduct of companies. The intention behind the ethical criteria is to reduce the risk that the Fund is invested in companies that contribute to, or are themselves responsible for, gross violations of ethical norms.”
The GPFG owns an average of more than 1% of all globally traded stocks.
The Ministry said the GPFG’s environment-related investment mandate will be expanded to NOK 30-60 billion, and that it is considering allowing the fund to invest in unlisted infrastructure including renewable energy projects.