Nobel Foundation divests funds linked to oil

By: AFP      Published: 09:18 PM, 20 Jul, 2021
Nobel Foundation divests funds linked to oil

The foundation that finances and organises the Nobel Prizes announced Tuesday that it had sold off its oil sector assets, after also withdrawing from the coal industry.

"Since several of our prizes are for science, it's natural to rely on science when it comes to climate change and sustainability," Vidar Helgesen, the new head of the Stockholm-based foundation, told AFP. 

According to the former Norwegian environment minister, the fund had sold off some 350 million Swedish kronor ($40 million, 34 million euros) of assets placed in a fund that did not have strong enough restrictions on oil.

Helgesen explained that as the foundation is not an active investor, it does not make direct investments in companies and instead relies on funds and fund managers to place their capital, but they still have requirements for what type of investments should be avoided.

Helgesen added that it is important that Nobel laureates know where their prize money comes from.  

The director of the foundation said they also sought to keep their investments in line with the "vision" of Alfred Nobel who bequeathed much of his wealth to create the prizes.

Nobel Prizes seek those who have provided "greatest benefit to humankind", and come with a sum of 10 million kronor per discipline that are financed by these investments.

The foundation has been criticised in recent years for holding -- indirectly through investment funds -- stakes in controversial sectors such as arms and tobacco.

It had already recently divested itself of its coal-related holdings, Helgesen added.

Global carbon emissions are set to hit an all-time high by 2023 despite international commitments to cut them, the International Energy Agency warned Tuesday.