Oslo, 7 April 2009 – Norway’s finance ministry has announced plans to earmark NKr 20 billion (€2.3bn) from its sovereign wealth fund for a five-year investment programme in environmental technology and sustainable development projects.
In addition, the government proposes “to initiate a broad study to assess how the challenges of climate change may affect the financial markets and how investors ought to act in light of this”, the ministry said in a statement.
Finance minister Kristin Halvorsen added: “In the same way as the Stern review provided important knowledge about the impact of climate change on the general economic development globally, work of a similar nature might shed light on the effect on financial markets more specifically.”
The investment programme will target companies and projects “that can be expected to yield indisputable environmental benefits, such as climate-friendly energy, improving energy efficiency, carbon capture and storage, water technology and management of waste and pollution”, according to the statement.
Norway’s central bank chief has taken the unusual step of criticising the government’s proposals as a deviation from the fund’s remit to achieve the highest possible returns. In a written submission Svein Gjedrem argues that “such earmarking of investments should take place through allocations in the annual national budget”, national news agency NTB reports.
The fund, officially known as the “Government Pension Fund Global”, is Europe’s largest single equity investor and one of world’s largest sovereign wealth funds thanks to Norway’s large oil revenues.