Norway's $880 billion oil fund could exclude biggest polluters

OSLO (Reuters) - The ethics watchdog for Norway’s $880-billion wealth fund will focus this year on identifying firms with the biggest emissions of greenhouse gases and will recommend excluding them from the fund’s investments, it said.

The fund, built from surpluses made by Norway’s oil industry, has stakes in more than 9,000 companies in 78 countries, owning some 1.3 percent of all listed shares globally. It is the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

Norway’s parliament set a mandate, in force since 2016, to restrict the fund’s investment in companies that emit excessive volumes of climate changing gases.

“We’ve begun to study some industries where there are reasons to believe unacceptable emissions are found,” the chairman of the fund’s ethics panel, Johan Andresen, told Reuters on the sidelines of a business conference on Wednesday.

“On climate there are a number of good data points, so we believe the advice we’ll give will be solid,” he added.

He declined to identify which companies may be targeted for exclusion or name the industries that were being scrutinized.

The wealth fund has a separate target to cut its exposure to coal companies and companies profiting from the use of coal, and has sold out of dozens of firms in mining and power generation as a result.

It is also forbidden by law from investing in firms that produce nuclear weapons or anti-personnel landmines, or are involved in serious and systematic human rights violations, among other ethical criteria.

Reporting by Camilla Knudsen, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Nerijus Adomaitis and Elaine Hardcastle