Norway: Council on Ethics of govt. pension fund publishes 2015 annual report

The Council on Ethics gives recommendations to Norges Bank on observation and exclusion of companies from the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global.

The Annual Report 2015 of the Council on Ethics includes brief articles on specific topics relevant to the Council’s work, such as the assessment of companies producing nuclear weapons, corruption risk, environmental damage or violation of worker’s rights. The report also includes a summary of all the Council’s recommendations to Norges Bank that have been published in 2015 and until 1 February 2016.

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Article
14 March 2016

2015 annual report

We are to help remove ethical risk from the fund…In 2015, the Council helped to prepare two new criteria – the climate and coal criteria. In accordance with the Council’s proposed wording of the climate criterion, companies may, as from 2016, be excluded on the basis of unacceptable climate-gas emissions. We have now started to conduct studies of various industries in order to understand where the climate-gas emissions are greatest and to identify the companies with unacceptable emissions. Our ambition is to be able to conduct specific assessments of individual companies towards the end of the year. Regarding the coal criterion, Norges Bank will on an independent basis be able to exclude companies that base more than 30 per cent of their operations on thermal coal. Following this, the Council will assess any coal companies left in the fund. In 2015, the Council continued to map violations of workers’ rights in the textile industry. The preliminary findings indicate that companies sourcing from the textile producers we have investigated have a considerable self-interest in working with their suppliers, although we also have a role to play. During the year, the Council also systematically reviewed corruption allegations against companies in both the petroleum and defence industries...Since the last annual report, seven recommendations have been published, encompassing a total of eight companies...[Refers to Daewoo, Genting, IJM]

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Article
14 March 2016

Ethics watchdog for Norway's $830 billion wealth fund sees increase in bans on firms

Author: Joachim Dagenborg & Gwladys Fouche, Reuters

The ethics watchdog for Norway's $830-billion wealth fund will focus this year on identifying corruption in telecoms, arms and energy companies and expects to recommend that an increasing number of firms across all sectors be barred from investment.By the end of this year, the fund which invests income from Norway's oil and gas production could add the first companies to its blacklist for emitting too much climate changing gas, said the chairman of its independent ethics panel, Johan H. Andresen.The ethics panel will also look into allegations of human rights abuses in Qatar's building sector, Malaysia's electronics goods industry, and textile factories in some Asian countries, Andresen told Reuters...Norway's parliament has set a new mandate from this year to restrict investment in companies that emit excessive climate changing gases. Andresen said his panel was still looking into the criteria for such judgments but its first recommendations on climate criteria could come by the end of the year...Andresen...said: "Companies should aspire to be far better ... They should not try to guess what is the least amount of good behavior that is expected." [Refers to Petrobras]

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