Motivated by recent climate reports by the United Nations and International Energy Agency, the Netherlands’ biggest pension fund, the ABP fund, has announced that it will divest from companies that produce fossil fuels.
The change, which many of the members of the fund were demanding, was celebrated by Faiza Oulahsen, the head of climate and energy at the Dutch branch of Greenpeace, who said that this was “fantastic news in the fight against the climate crisis.”
The ABP fund is a powerful investor that manages the pensions of more than three million Dutch workers in the government and education sectors. It has around 15 billion euros ($17.4 billion) invested in fossil fuel production, which makes up nearly three percent of its assets.
“This step by ABP is extremely important and makes clear once again that the time of coal, oil, and gas is passing,” Oulahsen adds. “Quitting fossils is the only logical answer to scientists’ warnings. We also expect this step from other financiers, major polluters, and governments.”
The ABP’s commitment to divest from fossil fuels comes just before the UN climate conference, COP26, begins in Glasgow.
“We want to contribute to minimizing global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Large groups of pension participants and employers indicate how important this is to them,” said ABP Chairman of the Board Corien Wortmann in a statement.
“The ABP Board sees the need and urgency for a change of course,” she explains. “We part with our investments in fossil fuel producers because we see insufficient opportunity for us as a shareholder to push for the necessary, significant acceleration of the energy transition at these companies.”
Instead, the ABP will invest in industries that use fossil fuels such as the automotive and aviation industries, and use its immense influence to “encourage companies that use fossil fuels to become more sustainable.”