The Norwegian central bank, which runs the Oslo-based fund, is recommending the fund be divested of more than $37 billion, or about 6.0 percent of the fund's benchmark equity index, according to Bloomberg.
"But clearly the direction is that. if the ministry and the politicians think it is good advice and they say yes to it, clearly the investments in the oil and gas sector will decrease over time", he added. The proposal is based on the oil and gas sector as defined by the FTSE reference index. In periods of stable oil prices, the returns on oil and gas stocks have largely moved in tandem with the broad equity market.
The oil and gas sector now spans a broad range of energy-related activities, including companies classified as integrated oil and gas, oil service and renewable energy.
Norway's sovereign wealth fund, which is fuelled by the state's oil revenues, wants to divest its oil and gas holdings, the Norwegian central bank which manages the fund said Thursday.
The aim is primarily to reduce the fund's exposure to oil price fluctuations.
In addition to its holdings via the fund, Norway has exposure to oil and gas via large untapped offshore hydrocarbon reserves, as well as its 67 per cent stake in the national oil company, Statoil.
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The plan would entail the fund, which controls about 1.5% of global stocks, dumping as much as $40 billion of shares in worldwide giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell. Norges Bank Investment Management is the part of the Norwegian central bank responsible for managing the fund.
Nicolò Wojewoda of 350.org Europe was also hopeful about the implications of Norges Bank's decision, calling it "yet another nail in the coffin of the coal, oil, and gas industry".
Government finances in Norway have been hit hard by the drop in oil prices in recent years.
"This is the biggest pile of money on the planet, most of it derived from oil-but that hasn't blinded its owners to the realities of the world we now inhabit", said McKibben.
The proposal to sell oil and gas stocks must be approved by the government. "The straight answer is that all other sectors would be weighted up in proportion". The Labor Party, the biggest opposition group, said it would like to study the proposal before making a decision.
Built from Norway's oil and gas revenue over the past two decades, the fund takes into account ethical rules encompassing human rights, some weapons production, the environment and tobacco when deciding on investments. Peter Fitzgerald, Aviva Investors head of multi-assets, told Reuters.