Nobel Foundation divests funds linked to oil

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 Top oil producers will cut global petroleum output by nearly a 10th.
Top oil producers will cut global petroleum output by nearly a 10th.
  • The Nobel Foundation has sold off over R580 million in assets in a fund that does not have strong enough restrictions on oil.
  • The foundation's head says Nobel laureates must know where their prize money comes from. 
  • The foundation has been criticised in recent years for holding stakes in controversial sectors. 

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

"This year we have sold off shares in oil," Vidar Helgesen, the new head of the Stockholm-based foundation, told public broadcaster SR.

According to the former Norwegian environment minister, the fund had sold off nearly 350 million Swedish kronor (over R580 million) of assets placed in a fund that did not have strong enough restrictions on oil.

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

"The public has expectations that everyone who has capital to invest, should invest that wisely," Helgesen said.

The Nobel Foundation, which was set up after Alfred Nobel bequeathed much of his wealth to create the prizes, manages a portfolio of roughly 4.8 billion Swedish kronor in investments, according to its latest balance sheet.

Nobel Prizes, which reward those who have provided "greatest benefit to humankind", 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.

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