Framtiden Fossil Free Norway summer training event July 2014An expert panel commissioned by the Norwegian government recommended the country’s sovereign wealth fund – also known as the oil fund – should add a new criterion to its investment guidelines: ‘contribution to climate change’.

The report falls short of recommending divestment from fossil fuels and favours ‘active ownership and engagement’. The group proposes that the oil fund should become a more ‘active and engaged investor on climate matters’ and exclude investments in companies that are ‘severely harmful to the climate’ on a case-by-case basis.

This list of the top 200 companies with the biggest fossil fuel reserves will come in handy for the assessment of the harmfulness of a company. Eighty percent of these companies’ fossil fuel reserves are unburnable to limit global warming below 2 degree.

According to an analysis by WWF, Norway’s $870bn fund – the world’s largest sovereign wealth investor – invests in 147 of these 200 companies. That’s the equivalent of 108 times the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

If the fund believes that it can influence these companies through ‘active ownership’ to stop looking for new carbon and leave 80 percent of their current reserves underground, they need to put forward a clear strategy and timeline on how they are planning to achieve that. Failing that, the fund is doing nothing but actively funding climate wreckage.

As Bill McKibben said in a statement today, engagement proponents have a lot to prove:

“We’ve watched with interest for the last two years as some of those who said they weren’t ready to divest have instead promised to ‘engage’ with the fossil fuel industry. So far that engagement has yielded ringing promises from the biggest oil companies that they will indeed dig up and burn all their reserves and look for more. The learning curve gets more obvious every day–and the conclusion of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, that this is an unreformable industry with whom we must break ties, seems more and more obvious.”

The report is expected to be met with opposition in parliament. The majority of Parliamentarians – backed by public opinion in Norway – is that coal must be banned from the oil fund’s investments.

A recent report by Framtiden, Greenpeace Nordic and Urgewald revealed that the oil fund’s investments in coal are much higher than previously acknowledged: NOK 82.2bn (€9.7bn) instead of the fund manager’s claim of just NOK 2.5bn.

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