Sovereign Wealth Funds as a New Instrument of Climate Protection Policy?

Study of Norway as a Pioneer of Ethical Guidelines for Investment Policy

  • Publications 01.12.2008

Norway's abundance of resources is the establishing factor in explaining how the North European state ranks among the countries worldwide with the highest standard of living. Indeed, fossil fuels are finite and after their depletion the Norwegian social welfare state should endure. Therefore, a sovereign wealth fund has been founded in the kingdom in 1990, in which the surpluses from the oil and gas industry sales have been invested from that time on. This method should secure the state's ability to act in the post-petroleum era.

At the end of the 1990's the voice of Norwegian society insisted that the sovereign wealth fund should not only be for intergenerational justice, but should also contribute to the implementation of worth and norms of the present country. In the end of 2004 the Parliament (Storting), on the basis of the Graver Report, finally agreed upon ethic regulations for the investment of the sovereign wealth fund. With capital of over 280 billion Euros (figures from 2007), the second largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, they should now only have businesses in their portfolio which adhere to those ethical regulations. In the present paper, the emergence and outcomes of the development of a "Third Way" between maximising profit and sustainability will be illustrated.

The ethical regulations have different dimensions (e.g. no contribution to human rights violations, child labour, serious environmental damages, etc.) to which the present text concentrates on posing the question to what extent sovereign wealth funds could be a new instrument of climate protection policy. For this purpose, the contribution of both main instruments of ethical regulations, "Active Ownership" and the exclusion of businesses, were analysed as well as the actors which have been created for their implementation. The repercussions reach from dialogs with businesses in the USA to stop lobby activities against Congress-planned climate protection laws, such as an emissions trading system, to adjusting to the exclusion of individual firms from the portfolio of welfare states, due to a breach of ethics.

The drawbacks and constraints of a takeover of the Norwegian regulations by other financial actors and its first diffusion effects will be analysed. Finally, this article will deal with the running evaluations of the ethical regulations and Norwegian current and future domestic climate policies.



Danyel Reiche:

Sovereign Wealth Funds as a New Instrument of Climate Protection Policy?

Study of Norway as a Pioneer of Ethical Guidelines for Investment Policy

Wuppertal Paper no. 173e (December 2008)

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