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Norway wealth fund loses $15 billion in 2011

Norway's sovereign wealth fund lost $15 billion last year as European stock prices fell over uncertain growth prospects amid the debt crisis, the country's central bank said on Friday.

Investments made by the oil and gas rich country's sovereign wealth fund suffered a 2.5 percent loss in 2011 worth 86 billion kroner ($15 billion).

"The result reflects substantial declines in share prices in 2011 and increased uncertainty about government debt in the euro area," Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) which manages the fund, was quoted as saying in a central bank statement.

"Because more than half of the fund is invested in Europe, it is of great importance to us that authorities are successful in solving the considerable structural and monetary challenges faced by the euro countries," he added.

The fund's stocks portfolio, half of which was invested in Europe, suffered an 8.8 percent loss. Fixed income investments brought a 7 percent return.

Due to currency fluctuations and additional contributions by the Norwegian state the market value of the fund rose by 234 billion kroner to to 3.3 trillion kroner.

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OIL

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration

Two NGOs and six young climate activists have decided to take Norway to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to demand the cancellation of oil permits in the Arctic, Greenpeace announced on Tuesday.

NGOs take Norway to European Court over Arctic oil exploration
Northern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.

It’s the latest turn in a legal tussle between environmental organisations Greenpeace and Young Friends of the Earth Norway on one side and the Norwegian state on the other.

The organisations are demanding the government cancel 10 oil exploration licenses in the Barents Sea awarded in 2016, arguing it was unconstitutional.

Referring to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the organisations claim that the oil licenses violated article 112 of Norway’s constitution, guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy environment.”

The six activists, alongside Greenpeace Nordic and Young Friends of the Earth Norway, hope that the European Court of Human Rights will hear their case and find that Norway’s oil expansion is in breach of human rights,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

In December, Norway’s Supreme Court rejected the claim brought by the organisations, their third successive legal defeat.

READ MORE: Norway sees oil in its future despite IEA’s warnings¬†

While most of the judges on the court agreed that article 112 could be invoked if the state failed to meet its climate and environmental obligations– they did not think it was applicable in this case.

The court also held that the granting of oil permits was not contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in part because they did not represent “a real and immediate risk” to life and physical integrity.

“The young activists and the environmental organisations argue that this judgment was flawed, as it discounted the significance of their environmental constitutional rights and did not take into account an accurate assessment of the consequences of climate change for the coming generations,” Greenpeace said.

On Friday, the Norwegian government unveiled a white paper on the country’s energy future, which still includes oil exploration despite a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA recently warned that all future fossil fuel projects must be scrapped if the world is to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Norwegian case is an example of a global trend in which climate activists are increasingly turning to courts to pursue their agenda.

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