Climate campaigners were high-fiving all over the world in June when they learned that Norway will divest its sovereign wealth fund from coal, the largest fossil-fuel divestment commitment secured to date.
The Norwegian parliament voted unanimously to divest a staggering $8.8 billion from the mining and burning of coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – on 5 June.
A coalition of civil-society organizations hailed the decision as a critical first step, which bodes well for the upcoming climate talks in Paris next December.
The UN-backed ‘Fossil Free’ campaign aims to convince investors that they should sell carbon-intensive stocks because reserves of coal, oil and gas are many times greater than could be safely burned.
In just three years, the campaign has persuaded major institutions, such as French insurance firm Axa, which dumped over half a million dollars of coal-blackened investments in June, Stanford University and the Church of England as well as hundreds of pension funds, states and city councils, to go fossil-fuel free.
Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) will withdraw funds from an estimated 122 companies that derive more than 30 per cent of their income from coal by 1 January 2016.
While keen to celebrate Norway’s decision, campaigners are not blind to the fact that its $900-billion fund was created by other fossil fuels – exporting oil and gas extracted from the North Sea.
‘The moral compass guiding Norway’s investments must be put to use to keep the country’s fossil-fuel reserves in the ground,’ said Nicolò Wojewoda from 350.org, the driving force behind the international divestment movement. ‘Coal is the dirtiest source of emissions, but oil and gas are no solutions to the climate crisis.
‘With King Coal falling from its throne, we are all more inspired to go after big oil and gas.’