Giant Norwegian fund’s coal investments under scrutiny

The coal mine investments of Norway’s NOK2,385bn (€280bn) Government Pension Fund are to come under increasing scrutiny from the fund’s Council of Ethics.
The Council, an independent body which makes recommendations to the Ministry of Finance, said in its new annual report that it plans to investigate “more closely” the giant fund’s investments in coal mines in the light of the number of accidents in the industry. The fund has at least 25 worldwide coal companies in its portfolio, according to its 2009 holdings report.
The five-person group will also look at oil pollution in the Niger Delta “in light of the many oil spills in the region over a prolonged period and the impact this may have on the environment and human health”.
The most prominent company active in the region is oil major Shell.The Council’s intervention on coal investments coincides with the appointment to the UK’s £4bn Pension Protection Fund of mining company director Barbara Judge. Judge has been named chair of the PPF, a signatory to the UN PRI, by the government.
The Council also revealed that it has signed a framework agreement with an unnamed UK consultancy with a global reach to make it “easier to access information and make assessments in cases where local knowledge is required”.
In 2009 the Ministry of Finance put German manufacturing giant Siemens on its official watch list on the grounds of gross corruption. The Council says it is currently observing Siemens via publicly available information and through dialogue with the company and the overseer put in place by the US authorities. PDF