Green Investments and Nordic Pension Funds

Velkomsttale på “Nordic Conference on Green Investments and Nordic Pension Funds”. Oslo, 27. mai 2015. (Sjekkes mot framføring)

Distinguished guests 

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this conference on Green Investments and Nordic Pension Funds hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers. 

We are currently facing major environmental challenges at the global level. Of these the challenge of man-made global warming is one of the most important ones. Sound science have been built for more than two decades through IPCC and we have strong evidence that human-induced climate change is on its way. 

 A global transition to a low-carbon economy is needed. The Norwegian Government has a long-term goal of making Norway a low emission society. Right investment decisions are key to this transition. The New Climate Economy report from last year showed us that low-carbon growth is possible. The green shift will be demanding, but will first and foremost offer opportunities. The investments decisions we do now, especially in infrastructure and for energy solutions, is critical for the future pathway towards green growth. 

2015 is the year of international negotiations to reach a new climate agreement in Paris in December. The new climate agreement can potentially shift expectations for carbon prices and commodity prices, and thereby future returns on investments. According to the Global Risk Report from the World Economic Forum, risks related to climate change is on the top 5 list of concerns for long-term global development. 

Institutional investors and the private sector know this. They are showing an increasing awareness in low emission investments and how to manage climate risk. The coalitions and initiatives launched under the Climate Summit in New York in September last year were good examples of private sector engagement in this area. More investments in renewable energy infrastructure are being undertaken. The green shift in the European electricity market is an example of this. Institutional investors see this as a market opportunity. The partnership between KLP, Norfund, and Scatec Solar on solar energy investments in South Africa is another example. Also the market for green bonds has matured significantly over the past years, with the potential to enable more green investments. 

The Nordic pension funds have for decades been in the forefront of integrating environmental and climate considerations into their investment strategies. Many of the Nordic pension funds have also taken concrete actions to stimulate green investments. From the Norwegian perspective, we have further developed the management of the Government Pension Fund Global and the Government Pension Fund Norway, as State Secretary Bjørnestad from the Ministry of Finance will elaborate more on shortly.   

The financial markets are under evolvement. Private sector financing is essential to fund the green investments needed for the low carbon transition. The establishment of a private sector facility under the Green Climate Fund is an example of how public institutions can partner up with the private sector for co-funding and risk sharing. In addition, green investments are to a larger extent being seen as a business opportunity. But barriers still exist. By bringing together private and public actors – different types of investors, pension funds, civil society and representatives from the government – we can use this conference to share experience and look at possible benefits of Nordic cooperation in this area. And to discuss solutions to support investment towards the transition towards a low-carbon economy. 

I want to thank all the prominent speakers for using your precious time to share your views and your work on green and sustainable investments.

I also want to thank our guests that have come from all the Nordic Countries, as well as from other European countries, to attend this Conference. 

I look forward to many interesting presentations throughout the day and wish everyone good and fruitful discussions. 

Thank you.