Coal divestments should increase

NGOs seek further action from the Norwegian Central Bank-managed Government Pension Fund Global regarding the environment

Photo: Komencanto~commonswiki / Wikimedia Commons Coal mining is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging pursuits.

Photo: Komencanto~commonswiki / Wikimedia Commons
Coal mining is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging pursuits.

Sarah Bostock & Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

“The good news is that Norges Bank divested 54 coal corporations last year, the bad news is: more than 70 remain. That means that there is urgent need for the fund to accelerate its divestment efforts,” said Arild Hermstad, director of Norway’s Framtiden i våre hender (The Future in our hands) in a statement.

The GPFG returned 2.7 percent in 2015—some NOK 334 billion. Yngve Slyngstad, CEO of Norges Bank Investment Management described 2015 as “a volatile year,” but called its overall result “satisfying.”

At the same time, Heffa Schücking, director of the German NGO Urgewald, says that the GPFG’s holdings in the 54 companies that were divested amounts to NOK 10.9 billion (some EUR 1.16 billion / $1.28 billion USD at today’s ROE).

Norwegian parliamentarians voted unanimously in favor of pulling the fund out of coal last year.

But the NOK 10.9 billion is less than one-fifth of the sum that Norges Bank had envisioned for the divestment action, according to Schücking. She believes that the bank “has only accomplished a small portion of its homework.”

“Among the companies that remain in the GPFG are the German utility RWE, which is the world’s largest lignite miner and Europe’s biggest CO2 emitter. Or the U.S. utility Duke Energy, which was convicted as an environmental criminal by the U.S. courts last year for the extreme water pollution caused by its coal ash ponds,” stated Schücking.

“Or companies like China’s Huaneng, which is planning over 66,000 MW of new coal capacity, making it the world’s third-largest builder of new coal-fired power plants,” she added, expressing that it is difficult to understand why the bank has not divested from these companies yet.

A deeper analysis and a new “Divestment To Do List” for Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global is expected from Urgewald and Framtiden i våre hender next month.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the March 18, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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