Dutch pension fund ABP sells its shares in fossil fuels

Pension fund ABP will no longer invest in fossil fuels. Over the next one-and-a-half years it will sell all its shares in fossil fuel producers.

Increasing pressure inspired ABP to see the light: no more investments in fossil fuels. (Photo: Alexander Jawfox via Unsplash)

The activist organisation Fossielvrij (fossil fuel free) is just one of many groups that is happy with the news that was made known on 26 October. ‘We have the tireless work done by teachers, civil servants, scientists, police officers and young people to thank for this huge victory’, the group twittered (in Dutch). The pressure on the pension fund’s investment policy from the academic world, including TU Delft, has been growing.

Previously, as a shareholder, ABP wanted to keep discussions with oil and gas companies open so as to encourage them to move in a greener direction. They have now changed tack. ‘We do not see enough opportunities to use our influence to have these companies take the step from fossil to sustainable energy’, is the explanation. ‘In taking this step, we will meet the demands of various groups of participants and employers to withdraw from the fossil fuel industry.’

‘Our discussion with the management team had an effect’

ABP still has shares in “extraction operations and fossil fuel storage”, Corien Wortmann, Chair of the Board, states in an interview (in Dutch). “We intend to bid these farewell too, but that will take more time.” In a list of questions and answers, the pension fund states that it will continue to invest is the large users of fossil energy and plans to encourage them to shift from fossil to sustainable energy more quickly. ‘We are looking in particular at companies in the auto industry, aviation and electricity.”

At the beginning of this year, ABP announced its intention to invest climate neutrally by 2050. The reason (in Dutch) given at the time was that the fund did not want to take major financial risks. “If we impose too many limitations on our investors, it could come at the cost of the returns.” The last climate report was the final push for ABP’s change in direction. ‘I dare say that our last discussion with the management team members of ABP and APG (another pension fund) also had an effect,’ said Andy van den Dobbelsteen, TU Delft’s Sustainability Coordinator, on Twitter (in Dutch).

The shares in fossil fuels account for about 3% of ABP’s total share portfolio and are worth EUR 15 billion. According to the fund, the sale will not necessarily have a negative effect on pensions.

HOP, Bas Belleman/Delta editorial team

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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