Move by Norway sovereign wealth fund to invest in renewables could have 'global impact'
Oslo, Norway: The government of Norway will mandate the country's sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, to invest in renewable energy, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced in Oslo today."We are thrilled that Norway is stepping forward to lead on renewable energy," says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway. "If done at scale, this will have global impact and redefine how we use money consistent with commitments to limit climate change."We have long advocated that the fund invest up to 5% in infrastructure for renewable energy. This will require a change in the guidelines for the fund, similar to the mandate to investing in property that was granted in 2010. "The pension fund is the largest state investor in the world. A solid renewable energy mandate will send a tremendously powerful signal and set the standard for other international investors."Solberg promised that the government would create a renewable energy investment mandate with the same management requirements as other investments in the fund. Full details of the investment mandate will be delivered on April 4 by Norway's finance minister."The mandate should allow for direct investment in renewable infrastructure where a large scale of capital is urgently needed," says WWF financial analyst, Lars Erik Mangset. "We will be looking to see if the government award a mandate to allow up to 5% of the fund to be invested into renewable energy infrastructure and exactly how they extended the fund to invest in real estate."WWF is running a global campaign, Seize Your Power, calling on financial institutions including major sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and multilateral development banks to significantly increase their funding of renewable energy and cut funding to fossil fuels as a key means of tackling climate change. Det Skjer!, as the campaign is called in Norway, has seen WWF-Norway leading a coalition of thirteen organisations pushing for the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (Government Pension Fund Global) to invest directly in infrastructure, including renewable energy. A significant push has also been made on the need to divest from highly polluting fossil fuels such as coal and tar-sands. WWF and partners called for an investment in renewable energy infrastructure last September, which was responded to by the prime minister saying the government would "consider" such a move.In the past twelve months the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have all committed to virtually end coal investments. Norwegian private pension fund provider Storebrand has also divested from 29 coal and tar sands companies in the past year because of their obvious carbon exposure."It is rare that one government alone can bend the curve on climate change. Norway, through its sovereign wealth fund, can," says Samantha Smith, Leader, WWF's Global Climate & Energy Initiative. "WWF now looks to Norway's leaders to commit to renewable energy investment at a scale that will make a global difference. This will be their legacy, and we are watching."
EU reps speak out about Soco's Virunga exploration
Brussels - Two European diplomats have expressed concerns about oil exploration activities being conducted by a UK oil company in an African World Heritage Site. The European Union Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs and Belgium's Minister of Development Cooperation Jean-Pascal Labille issued a joint declaration on the issue Friday after returning from a visit to Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The officials recognized that Virunga is a critical economic driver for eastern DRC, and has the potential to spur further sustainable development in the region. Piebalgs and Labille noted, however, that the site's nature is particularly sensitive, and that oil production would be a major risk. During their mission, the men met with representatives of civil society organizations who reported that threats have been made against some nearby residents who oppose oil exploitation in Africa's oldest national park. Soco International PLC may start seismic tests in Virunga's Lake Edward as early as this month, and plans to limit access to fishermen during testing. An independent economic analysis of the park commissioned by WWF found that 50,000 people depend on the lake for jobs, food and freshwater. In their statement, Piebalgs and Labille triggered an urgent call to action for all relevant authorities and company shareholders to do their utmost to ensure that Soco upholds corporate social responsibility standards and the provisions of international treaties, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. UNESCO maintains that oil exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage Status and has called for the cancellation of all Virunga oil permits. The UK foreign office and the EU, Belgian and German parliaments have previously voiced disapproval of Soco's exploration in Virunga.TAKE ACTION NOW. TELL SOCO TO LEAVE VIRUNGA.
Nine organizations in Nepal honored with WWF Leaders for a Living Planet Award.
WWF honoured the work of nine organizations in Nepal that played an instrumental role in achieving this second year of zero poaching through the WWF Leaders for a Living Planet award.The award was jointly presented by the president of WWF International Yolanda Kakabadse and the Director General of WWF International Jim Leape amidst a ceremony organized in Chitwan on 5th March 2014. The organizations who have been honored were Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Nandabox Battalion, Ranadal Company and Narsinghadal Battalion of Nepal Army, Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police, Buffer zone management committees of Chitwan National Park and Bardia National Park, and the National Trust for Nature Conservation.WWF's greatest strength is its people who together strive for a living planet to achieve conservation success and sustainable development. "Leaders for a Living Planet" award highlights these champions for the environment, recognizes their contribution, while profiling conservation success and, above all, showing what can be achieved and inspiring others to take up the challenge to secure a living planet. Nepal added a new conservation milestone of achieving zero poaching of rhinos, tigers and elephants with an announcement on World Wildife Day last week. This is the second time that Nepal celebrated zero poaching, the first being in 2011.A achievement is the result of strengthened protection and enforcement efforts led by the government and supported by its conservation partners such as WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. Trans-boundary cooperation with India and China, and regional mechanisms such as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network as well as more coordination between park authorities, Nepal's army and police and local communities are at the forefront of combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.