“If it passes through parliament this decision will deal a large blow to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it. This should sound like a red alert for private banks and investors whose oil and gas assets are becoming increasingly risky and morally untenable,” says Yossi Cadan, senior divestment campaigner at 350.org. “The flip side of the coin is that fossil fuel giants like Exxon and Shell will still remain in the fund’s investment portfolio. This divestment proposal is a big step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough to help avoid climate chaos.”
In order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change and keep global warming below 1.5°C we have to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shift finance towards sustainable energy solutions for all. Climate impacts are already hitting home and we have no time left to lose. Last year Nordic heatwaves, wildfires in the Arctic Circle and alarming news of the thickest Arctic sea ice starting to break up, showed how climate change is close to home for Norway. The Norwegian government is proposing that the Sovereign Wealth Fund drop some of its oil and gas assets to reduce financial risks, but at the same time the government is increasing the huge risk of climate impacts by continuing its support for companies like Exxon and Shell.
The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund pledged to divest from coal in 2015, today’s proposal builds on that by targeting all fossil fuels and demonstrating the growing strength and momentum of the global divestment movement. Since the movement started in 2012 over 1000 institutions with managed investments worth over $8 trillion have committed to divest from fossil fuel firms like Exxon and Shell. At the core of it all is a people-powered grassroots movement – it’s ordinary people pushing their local institutions to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry – the industry most responsible for the current climate crisis.