Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Norwegian government announced Friday a bold recommendation for the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund to divest all its holdings, worth nearly $40 billion, from oil and gas industries. The proposal, if approved by the nation's parliament, would see the world's largest sovereign wealth fund worth $1 trillion, divest from all fossil fuels. (Photo: Pixabay.com)

Citing 'Permanent Oil Price Decline,' Norwegian Fund's Fossil Fuel Divestment Could Spark Global 'Shockwave'

"The decision should sound like a red alert for private banks and investors whose oil and gas assets are becoming increasingly risky and morally untenable," say climate campaigners

Jon Queally

In a move that climate campaigners say should send a "shockwave" through the global oil and gas industry, the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund—the largest of its kind in the world—has recommended the Norway government divest the entirety of the fund's $40 billion holdings from the fossil fuel industry.

"If [proposal passes through parliament it will produce a shockwave in the market, dealing the largest blow to date to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it." 
—Yossi Cadan, 350.org

In a statement on Friday, Minister of Finance Siv Jensen explained the decision is meant to "reduce the vulnerability" of the Norwegian fund "to permanent oil price decline." With an estimated $1 trillion in total holdings, Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund is the largest publicly held investment in the world. According to a spokesperson for the finance ministry, the fund currently has roughly 66 billion Norwegian krone ($7.5 billion) invested in energy exploration and production stocks—approximately 1.2% of the fund's stock portfolio.

The recommendation from the Norwegian fund will now be sent to the nation's parliament for approval.

Climate groups that have pushed aggressively for divestment from the fossil fuel industry in recent years as a key way to decrease the threat of greenhouse gases and runaway global warming celebrated the announcement as a possible crucial turning point.

"We welcome and support this proposal," said Yossi Cadan, senior divestment campaigner at 350.org, "if it passes through parliament it will produce a shockwave in the market, dealing the largest blow to date to the illusion that the fossil fuel industry still has decades of business as usual ahead of it. The decision should sound like a red alert for private banks and investors whose oil and gas assets are becoming increasingly risky and morally untenable."

Bill McKibben, one of the group's co-founders, called it a "huge, huge, huge win."

In a statement, 350 added:

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. It seems unthinkable for Norwegian financiers to continue to invest in companies that are causing this chaos.

Catherine Howarth, chief executive of ShareAction, which provides analysis for investors focused on creating a more sustainable society, said the Norwegian fund's announcement "is further evidence that investors are growing increasingly dissatisfied with oil exploration and production companies."

Institutional investors that manage sovereign wealth funds and pensions funds, she added,  "are withdrawing their capital from oil and gas companies on the grounds that quicker-than-expected growth in clean energy and associated regulation is making oil and gas business models highly vulnerable. This announcement will put pressure on investors to ramp up their engagement with integrated oil majors ahead of [annual general meeting] season" when stock holders gather to assess and review company performance and strategies.

While the financial reality of the climate crisis comes into increasing view for global investors and markets, 350.org says that credit belongs to the campaigners from around the world who have bravely stood up to demand an end to the financial and energy hegemony of the fossil fuel industry.

At the heart of the global divestment campaign, the group said, "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."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Coalition Urges Biden to Make 'Transformative Change' in Approach to Global Food and Agriculture

"This pro-corporate agriculture agenda must change under your watch."

Andrea Germanos ·


Mondaire Jones Warns Against Watering Down Human Infrastructure Proposals

The New York Democrat is advocating universal programs, not means-tested ones, for programs in the Build Back Better plan.

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Threatening Key Climate Provision: Reports

"To take it out is to decide that climate change isn't a problem."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Make a Gesture of Humanity': Pope Francis Urges Pharma Giants to Release Covid-19 Vaccine Patents

"There are countries where only three or four percent of the inhabitants have been vaccinated."

Andrea Germanos ·


Manchin Fumes After Sanders Op-Ed in West Virginia Paper Calls Out Obstruction of Biden Agenda

"Poll after poll shows overwhelming support for this legislation," wrote Sanders. "Two Democratic senators remain in opposition, including Sen. Joe Manchin."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo