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Move by Norway sovereign wealth fund to invest in renewables could have 'global impact'
by Staff Writers
Oslo, Norway (SPX) Mar 18, 2014

File image: Osmotic power plant in Norway.

The government of Norway will mandate the country's sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, to invest in renewable energy, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced in Oslo today.

"We are thrilled that Norway is stepping forward to lead on renewable energy," says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway. "If done at scale, this will have global impact and redefine how we use money consistent with commitments to limit climate change.

"We have long advocated that the fund invest up to 5% in infrastructure for renewable energy. This will require a change in the guidelines for the fund, similar to the mandate to investing in property that was granted in 2010.

"The pension fund is the largest state investor in the world. A solid renewable energy mandate will send a tremendously powerful signal and set the standard for other international investors."

Solberg promised that the government would create a renewable energy investment mandate with the same management requirements as other investments in the fund. Full details of the investment mandate will be delivered on April 4 by Norway's finance minister.

"The mandate should allow for direct investment in renewable infrastructure where a large scale of capital is urgently needed," says WWF financial analyst, Lars Erik Mangset.

"We will be looking to see if the government award a mandate to allow up to 5% of the fund to be invested into renewable energy infrastructure and exactly how they extended the fund to invest in real estate."

WWF is running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, calling on financial institutions including major sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and multilateral development banks to significantly increase their funding of renewable energy and cut funding to fossil fuels as a key means of tackling climate change.

Det Skjer!, as the campaign is called in Norway, has seen WWF-Norway leading a coalition of thirteen organisations pushing for the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (Government Pension Fund Global) to invest directly in infrastructure, including renewable energy. A significant push has also been made on the need to divest from highly polluting fossil fuels such as coal and tar-sands.

WWF and partners called for an investment in renewable energy infrastructure last September, which was responded to by the prime minister saying the government would "consider" such a move.

In the past twelve months the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments. Norwegian private pension fund provider Storebrand has also divested from 29 coal and tar sands companies in the past year because of their obvious carbon exposure.

"It is rare that one government alone can bend the curve on climate change. Norway, through its sovereign wealth fund, can," says Samantha Smith, Leader, WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative. "WWF now looks to Norway's leaders to commit to renewable energy investment at a scale that will make a global difference. This will be their legacy, and we are watching."


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