The Council on Ethics gives advice on whether investments in financial instruments issued by specified issuers are inconsistent with the Fund’s Ethical Guidelines.
Some of the exclusions from the Fund’s portfolio are based on what companies produce: Companies that produce key components for weapons that violate fundamental humanitarian principles through their normal use, are excluded from the Fund. In practice, this includes nuclear weapons, cluster munitions and antipersonnel landmines. Also, the production of tobacco and cannabis are criteria for exclusion of companies from the Fund. Observation or exclusion may also be decided for mining companies and power producers which themselves or through entities they control derive 30 per cent or more of their income from thermal coal or base 30 per cent or more of their operations on thermal coal.
Companies may also be excluded from the Fund if they contribute to or are themselves responsible for serious violations of norms. These types of exclusions are related to companies’ behaviour. The criteria for exclusions on this basis are:
- serious or systematic human rights violations;
- serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict;
- the sale of weapons to states engaged in armed conflict that use the weapons in ways that constitute serious and systematic violations of the international rules on the conduct of hostilities;
- severe environmental damage;
- acts or omissions that on an aggregate company level lead to unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions;
- gross corruption or other serious financial crime;
- other particularly serious violations of fundamental ethical norms.
Further more, the Fund cannot invest in bonds issued by the Governments of Syria, North Korea, Russia or Belarus. Companies that sell arms or military equipment to these states are also to be excluded from the portfolio.
In some cases there can be doubt as to whether the conditions for exclusion are fulfilled or a company’s future actions. In such instances companies may be placed under observation.
Norges Banks’s decision and the Council’s recommendation on observation or exclusion of companies are made public. When a company is excluded, the decision will be made public only after the securities have been sold.