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The World's Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund Will No Longer Invest in Coal Companies

Norway's sovereign wealth fund will divest assets from any company with a greater than 30 percent stake in coal operations, which is estimated to impact 50 US businesses.

by VICE News
Jun 5 2015, 8:55pm

Photo by Yannis Kolesidis/EPA

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Norway's $880 billion pension fund will be divesting from companies that are significantly connected with the coal industry, the country's parliament decided in a vote today. The move means the sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest, will part ways with investments in companies for which coal constitutes over 30 percent of its business.

"I see the Norwegian divestment as a huge win for the climate movement, and a clear impetus for other investors to follow the standard set by the Norwegian parliament," Truls Gulowsen, the head of Greenpeace in Norway, told VICE News. "[A]ny company with more than 30 percent of their activities in coal [is] unsustainable and immoral in the face of the climate challenge we are facing."

"The decision was supported by the fact that the coal sector is also performing very [poorly] financially," Gulowsen added, "although the moral issue was the primary reason to divest from coal mining and burning."

Related: It's been a very bad year so far for the US coal industry

The total value of the divestment is estimated to be anywhere from $5 billion, which is the Norwegian government's figure, to over $8 billion, Greenpeace's estimate. The environmental organization also estimates that as many as 122 companies could be divested from in total.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis estimates that the decision will affect about 50 American entities, among them Alabama Power, American Electric Power, and Dominion Resources.

"The logic of divestment is now spreading everywhere," Bill McKibben, of 350.org, told VICE News. "People in high places are now beginning to understand that these companies simply won't be able to access their reserves." 

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