Oil fund’s dirty money

The Sovereign Wealth Fund’s stakes in the coal industry are higher than previously acknowledged

Photo: Arnold Paul  / Wikimedia Commons A coal-fired power plant in Germany.

Photo: Arnold Paul / Wikimedia Commons
A coal-fired power plant in Germany.

Susanne Tunge Østhus
The Foreigner

The wealth fund’s holdings amount to NOK 82.2bn in the coal sector, a study conducted by a handful of environmental organizations reveals.

The report, “Dirty & Dangerous,” was a collaborative effort between three environmental organizations. These were the German Urgewald, Norway’s The Future in our Hands, and Greenpeace Norway.

Head of the Norwegian Pension Fund, Yngve Slyngstad, told parliamentarians at a hearing earlier this year that, “Our investments in coal are limited and falling. They have been halved over the last two years.”

Reuters also reported Slyngstad as saying that the SWF held NOK 2.5bn (about USD $366.2 million) in coal mining stocks last year.

“This is a gross understatement,” states Heffa Schuecking, director of the German NGO Urgewald, and author of the report.

“Dirty & Dangerous” highlights that the numbers Slyngstad gave only include companies that Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) classifies as coal producers. NBIM’s classification is problematic as it is too narrow, according to the report.

What is revealed is that Norway’s SWF holds over NOK 82.2 billion (some USD $12.04 billion) assets in the coal sector. NOK 68.7 billion is in shares, with the remaining NOK 13.5 billion being in bonds (about USD $10.06 billion and USD $1.97 billion, respectively).

“A substantial part of the world’s coal is, however, produced by power companies which operate their own coal mines. And NBIM generally classifies these companies as ‘utilities,’” it is stated.

Moreover, the document shows that the SWF’s 2013 portfolio contains 158 coal sector companies.

“We were not only shocked by how much, but also by what we found,” says Greenpeace Norway’s Truls Gulowsen.

The full “Dirty & Dangerous” report can be found at www.framtiden.no/rapporter/etikk-og-naeringsliv/744-skittent-og-farlig-kull-i-oljefondet/file.html.

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

It also appeared in the Dec. 5, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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