Author Topic: Norway’s oil fund’s investments in Canadian tar sands may be illegal  (Read 969 times)

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Offline mayya

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Norway’s oil fund’s investments in Canadian tar sands may be illegal


The Norwegian Government Pension Fund’s investments in Canadian tar sands may be illegal, concludes a legal opinion.

The reason is that the Ministry of Finance has not considered the environmental aspects of the fund’s investment in these companies. This is the conclusion of a legal opinion written by Cathrine Hambro, a lawyer at the law firm Wahl-Larsen Advokatfirma, commissioned by the Norwegian Climate Foundation .

Extraction of tar sands in Alberta, Canada. Photo: Julia Kilpatrick, The Pembina Institute
At the end of 2012, The Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (better known as the Norwegian oil fund), had invested more than $9 billion (55 billion NOK) in companies that are involved in tar sands extraction in Canada.

The legal opinion written by Cathrine Hambro concludes that it is «possible to file an actionable lawsuit against the Norwegian government represented by the Ministry of Finance, where the investments [in companies that produce oil from Canadian tar sands] are called into question, and a claim is made that fulfils the procedural requirements [of the rules of civil procedure].» Hambro evaluates the tar sands investments in the light of various Norwegian legal rules. Several of these are based upon fundamental principles of international law concerning the protection of the interests of future generations with regards to climate and the environment. Article 110b of the Norwegian Constitution is central.

In her evaluation, Ms Hambro particularly emphasises the substantial scale of the investments, and the fact that the Ministry of Finance must be assumed to be aware of the clearly negative climatic impact of the activities of these companies.

«The climate issue is not just a matter of politics, but also of law. This report shows that the basis may exist for a climate lawsuit against the government», says Pål W. Lorentzen, chairman of the board of the Norwegian Climate Foundation.

Mr Lorentzen stresses that the Norwegian Climate Foundation does not intend to file a lawsuit against the government on its own. However, the foundation will be open for discussions with other members of civil society to explore possible further avenues of action.