The tension between Norwegian politicians and the country’s massive oil fund, also known as the Government Pension Fund Global, is coming to a pitch, but it doesn’t look like the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund will give up oil.
Most European pension funds, with a few exceptions, are not divesting from fossil fuels or setting net-zero goal. In 2021 survey by the Mercer consulting firm across 12 countries, fewer than half of pensions indicated investment risks posed by climate change were under consideration, with just 8% saying that they had made pledges for net-zero carbon emissions.
Norway’s pension fund, however, cannot ignore calls for more climate responsibility.
The country’s prime minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, is a staunch supporter of curbing the oil fund, declaring at last year’s COP26 that the fund would help combat climate change. He also supports the setting on net-zero targets for the fund.
Yet, despite declarations, in January the government issued 53 licenses to find new oil fields and in that ignoring an International Energy Agency warning to do so. “While the world is changing at record speed from fossil to renewable,” says head of Greenpeace Norway, Frode Pleym, “the Støre government continues to invest in oil.”
Proponents of holding onto oil argue that the fund can better influence companies to adapt if they are active investors in them. Still, the fund divested from 43 companies in 2021 they assessed “not to have sustainable business models,” and supported climate policy initiatives at two general annual meetings, one at Caterpillar and the other at Delta Air Lines.