Environment activists block entrance to Norwegian central bank

OSLO (Reuters) - Protesters from the environmental group Extinction Rebellion blocked access to Norway’s central bank on Friday, demanding that its $1 trillion wealth fund, the world’s largest, stop investing in companies that burn coal.

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Around 10 demonstrators blocked the main entrance to Norges Bank and its asset management arm NBIM, carrying banners and spray-painting slogans on windows.

Three of the protesters glued their hands to a wall and a glass door inside the bank, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

Seeking to draw attention to “ineffective measures against climate change”, the demonstrators also plan wider actions against the government in a bid to halt Norway’s production of oil and gas, the group said in a statement.

Formally known as the Government Pension Fund Global, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund was built from decades of income generated by the country’s petroleum industry and invests all its cash in foreign stocks, bonds and real estate.

While the fund holds stakes in more than 9,000 companies, it is subject to a range of limitations, including a ban on firms producing nuclear bombs or tobacco, as well as those deriving more than 30 percent of revenues or activity from thermal coal.

“Extinction Rebellion Norway demands that Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund divest entirely from coal, and that Norway assume responsibility for the devastation caused in vulnerable island nations by anthropogenic global warming,” the statement said.

A central bank spokesman declined to comment.

Norway is Western Europe’s top producer of crude and natural gas, led by state-controlled Equinor.

Last month, Extinction Rebellion paralyzed parts of London with 11 days of climate-change protests that it cast as the biggest act of civil disobedience in recent British history.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Writing by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Mark Heinrich