Norway’s proposal to sell off $35 billion in oil and natural gas stocks brings sudden and unparalleled heft to a once-grassroots movement to enlist investors in the fight against climate change.
The Nordic nation’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund said Thursday that it’s considering unloading its shares of Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and other oil giants to diversify its holdings and guard against drops in crude prices.
Norges Bank Investment Management would not be the first institutional investor to back away from fossil fuels – but until now, most have been state pension funds, universities and other smaller players that have limited their divestments to coal, tar sands or some of the other dirtiest fossil fuels.
Norway’s fund is the world’s largest equity investor, controlling about 1.5 percent of global stocks – if it follows through on its proposal, it would be the first to abandon the sector altogether.
“This is an enormous change,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a non-profit that advocates for sustainable investing, “it’s a shot heard around the world.”
Norway’s Finance Ministry, which oversees the fund, said it will study the proposal and will take at least a year to decide what to do.