World’s Largest Wealth Fund Getting Squeezed By Socialist Lawmakers To Purge Coal

Torstein Tvedt SolbergTorstein Tvedt SolbergThe Socialist Left and the Green Party in Norway are browbeating the country’s massive wealth fund into divesting billions of dollars of coal assets — and the fund is likely to face other bans in the future on fossil fuels and oil investments.

“We’re not finished, it’s not ‘job done,'” Torstein Tvedt Solberg, who represents Labor on the Finance Committee, said during an interview about the need to impose more rules on the wealth fund. “We see that there are weaknesses and a potential for improvement. Our ambition is to get the fund out of coal, which means we must close all loopholes.”

Tvedt Solberg, the Greens, the Socialist Left, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats are pushing the $850 billion fund to jettison assets of companies that base more than 30 percent of their revenues on thermal coal. These political groups also want to widen the ban to include oil sands and coal transportation.

The country’s largest wealth fund has already drained investments from more than 50 companies after the Norwegian government implemented the new criteria. When the criteria were first created, the fund claimed it would need to divest more than 120 companies valued at $8 billion.

New rules could force the fund to get rid of assets from the world’s largest thermal coal producers, Glencore Plc and BHP Billiton. The fund, at the time of the original rules, refrained from divesting from the two companies because 70 percent of their business came from activities outside coal production.

Norway’s new rules could eat into the efficacy of the country’s claim to be Europe’s largest oil and gas producer. The country will need to be both a primary producer of green energy and oil.

The Green Party is at ease with the contradictions, and perceive them as a helpful tool to further its agenda of peeling back Norway’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“Parliament has set off on a slippery slope and there’s no way back,” Rasmus Hansson, the Greens’ only parliamentarian, told reporters. “There’s no longer any logic in saying yes to some carbon and no to other carbon.”

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