OSLO Nov 5 Norway's opposition Labour Party has
proposed banning the country's $800 billion wealth fund from
investing in coal producers, a motion that may gain traction as
several outside backers of the minority government expressed
"We believe that humans are responsible for climate change
so we must also see what we can do to reduce emissions," Labour
Party finance spokesman Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement.
The fund, the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, is a
major shareholder in some of the biggest coal miners on the
planet, including global giants BHP Billiton ,
Vale and Anglo American, as well as China's
top producer, China Shenhua .
The fund, also known as the oil fund, cannot invest in
companies that produce nuclear weapons, landmines, cluster
bombs, tobacco or firms involved in severe environmental damage,
gross corruption, or systematic human rights violation.
The finance ministry on several occasions instructed the
fund to divest from specific companies. Among miners, these
include Rio Tinto because of alleged
environmental damage and Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan
for alleged ethical violation.
"This is something we have been working on quite
independently of the Labour Party," Terje Breivik, deputy leader
of the Liberal Party, said. "We believe it is possible to go
further and consideration should be given to divest all
investments related to fossil fuels."
The Christian Democrats also said they sympathised with the
"I think there's a good chance this motion could pass,"
Christian Democrat parliamentarian and finance committee chair
Hans Olav Syversen said.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg rules in a minority and relies
on the Liberals and Christian Democrats for support, so her
government lacks enough votes to block a motion supported by all
However, no action is imminent as Labour said it would bring
its proposal to the table in the spring, during regular review
of the fund.
Norwegian public broadcaster NRK estimates that the oil fund
holds close to $10 billion of assets in coal miners.
An exclusion would put the government in a difficult
position as it owns a coal mine and coal-fired power station in
Norway's Arctic Svalbard islands, and the fund itself was built
from surplus revenues on oil and gas production.
The finance ministry could not immediately comment. It will
present a report on ethical investment by the fund on Nov. 11.