Hanne Gustavsen

Last week we updated you about the successes of other European Fossil Free campaigns, but this week we’ve got a special dispatch from our Norwegian divestment campaign partners, Framtiden.    Here’s the lowdown on the Fossil Fri Penger campaign from Hanne Gustavsen:

Pensions progress

Earlier this year the Norwegian parliament appointed an expert committee whose mandate is to assess whether divestment is a more effective strategy than “active ownership” for Norway’s State Pension Fund (SPU)  to address climate issues. Now, in cooperation with other environmental NGOs like Future in our hands (FIOH), we’re in the process of establishing a “shadow/parallel” expert committee made up of several well-respected academics.  They will undertake their own independent assessment alongside the official  expert committee, with both panels expected to publish their conclusions by the end of November 2014. We are following their progress closely and expect there will probably be a controversial discrepancy between the conclusions of the two different panels!

Linking divestment to local municipal elections

We are making divestment of local municipal pension funds a key demand ahead of the local elections next year. In cooperation with Klimavalg — an alliance of more than 80 NGOs across Norway — we’ll be working hard to convince the local candidates to prioritize this issue, and make it an important and visible debate in the elections.  Research by Future in Our Hands has  revealed that Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), which manages the pensions on behalf of many municipalities and public enterprises, is investing in fossil fuels.  KLP are now reviewing their investments and have admitted that they may have to reconsider these investments if they receive enough demand for fossil fuel divestment from their clients. Our job is to make sure that happens.

Building strong local campaigns

Framtiden activists gather for summer training event to build local power and organisation

Framtiden activists gather for summer training event to build local power and organisation

We also arranged a national workshop with our local activists from 13-15th of June, focusing on capacity building, sharing skills and making connections between different local campaigns.

The activists have been focusing a lot on building strong organisation locally, and spreading information about Fossil Free. There have been several information stands in Trondheim, Bergen and Oslo, as well as workshops and public demonstrations.  Step-by-step, we’re building a Norwegian divestment movement.

University of Bergen’s unethical links


Bergen students “350″ protest to demand an end to their university’s fossil fuel research and partnership with Statoil

The public debate about the controversial contract between Statoil and The University of Bergen is still going strong (Akademia-avtalen), even in national newspapers. On 7 May, Future in our Hands’ local activist group arranged a huge protest  against the contract outside the university, spelling out 350 with their bodies. Shortly afterwards, our National committee on ethical issues (NENT) reached the conclusion that:  “petroleum research is ethically irresponsible if it serves to prevent the necessary transition necessary to reach the UNs climate goals.” 

The committee urged Norwegian universities to take responsibility for making such a transition possible. Bergen’s Rector, Dag Rune Olsen, promised that green energy will be a stronger priority for the university in coming years, but still claims that NENTs conclusion do not affect the Statoil contract in question.  Obviously, the students’ struggle for a university free of fossil fuel research is not over yet.

Trondheim Student and Citizen Alliance

Trondheim students and residents have formed an alliance to demand fossil fuel divestment

Trondheim students and residence have formed an alliance to demand fossil fuel divestment

In Trondheim, a Fossil Free alliance has been working together to secure fossil fuel divestment from both  the University of Trondheim (whose investments are managed through the UNIFOR foundation) and the City Council.  As a result of their joint engagement, Trondheim City Council has started an investigation about this issue, and is expecting to make a decision based on their findings. The activists will keep up the pressure.

The university, on the other hand, is giving credit to Fossil Free campaigners for raising the issue, but claims that it is difficult to divest because the money invested through UNIFOR is from private donors and foundations, and not the university’s “own money”. The alliance just received a letter from the University rector, and this opens the way for an interesting debate and likely escalation of the campaign after the summer break.

And finally…

Activists in 4 additional cities have been in touch with their city administration, trying to find out how their local pension funds are invested. This information isn’t always easy accessible, but we now know that most of them are invested in fossil fuels, so there will definitely be more debate and Fossil Free actions after summer. Watch this space…

For more climate movement news, follow 350 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram