Oslo City Council has announced today that it will divest from fossil fuels! In March, Norway’s capital announced a ban on investments in coal. Now the capital of a major oil-producing nation will divest its €8 billion pension fund from coal, oil and gas.

This makes Oslo the first capital city government in the world to make the commitment to go fossil free, following in the footsteps of the Australian city of Canberra, which falls under the divestment pledge the Australian Capital Territory made in August.

Councillor Lan Marie Nguyen Berg  said:

“We are very happy to announce that Oslo will take responsibility for the climate, both through our own policies and our investments. The time for climate action is now, and the new city government will address climate change both locally and globally. […] Divestment sends a strong message to the world prior to the Climate Change Conference in Paris that we need a strong agreement that will ensure that we avoid dangerous global warming.”

Arild Hermstad of Norwegian environmental NGO Future in Our Hands  celebrated Oslo’s announcement saying:

“There’s a strong symbolism when the capital city of our oil producing nation says ‘no’ to investing in fossil fuels. It shows that fossil fuels are history, and that shifting away from them, and to renewables, is the future.”

In June, the Norwegian Parliament decided that the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, one of the biggest state funds in the world worth $900bn, will sell off over $8bn in coal investments, following a similar commitment from the capital city. Now Oslo leads once more the way, and we hope that the country’s pension fund as well as cities around the world will follow its example and break their ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Divesting from fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do, it also makes economic sense. In the words of Oslo Councillor Nguyen Berg:

“This is also a sound financial decision. Heavy investments in fossil fuels is a huge risk when we know that the majority of fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. The Norwegian economy is already experiencing the downsides of being dependent on fossil fuel exports, with unemployment rates rising following the drop in oil prices, and investment costs rising sharply on the Norwegian shelf. This policy change will protect our pensions from being invested in stranded assets.

Oslo joins a growing movement of 45 cities around the world that have committed to ban investments in coal, oil and gas companies. You can encourage your own city and community to follow in Oslo’s footsteps too by asking them to #DivestforParis.

[Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1OOjYrb]