OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s $915-billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has earned less money because of divestments it has made over the past decade due to ethical and environmental considerations, it said on Tuesday.
Still, the fund’s CEO told Reuters the fund would bank on certain type of green investments in the future as they were attractive.
The fund funnels the proceeds of Norway’s oil and gas production. It invests in close to 9,000 companies worldwide, as well as bonds and property.
It is forbidden by law from investing in firms that produce nuclear weapons or landmines, or are involved in serious and systematic human rights violations, among other criteria.
The fund returned 1.11 percentage points less between 2006 and 2016 as a result of exclusions of companies on ethical grounds, according to a report it published on Tuesday.
The loss was about 12 billion crowns, or $1.42 billion, for the decade, said fund CEO Yngve Slyngstad, though he added that he would not want the fund to be allowed to invest again in those companies.
“There is a broad consensus among Norwegians that the fund should not earn money from companies that take people’s lives,” he told reporters.
Some 65 companies are excluded on ethical grounds, based on the recommendation of the fund’s ethical watchdog, the Council on Ethics. Another 69 firms are excluded directly by the fund based on their dependence on thermal coal.
The biggest loss of 1.16 percentage points was caused by not being invested in tobacco producers, followed by manufacturers of specific weapons, such as nuclear weapons, cluster munitions and anti-personnel landmines.
But there was an upside on some types of investments.
By being divested from companies that cause severe environmental damage, for example some coal mining firms and those that fell rainforests, the fund earned 0.78 of a percentage point more than if it had stayed invested in those companies, the report said.
Slyngstad later told Reuters that the fund would particularly focus on two types of green investments in the future: natural resource management, such as waste management, and environmental technology, such as batteries for cars.
“(These two) are probably more interesting for us and we are still looking for more external managers (to look after these investments),” Slyngstad said in an interview, adding that natural resource management in particular had had “very good” results for the fund.
($1 = 8.4449 Norwegian crowns)
Editing by Ed Osmond