Europe’s Largest Pension Fund Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment


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Source: Common Dreams

Photo by Ameer Mussard-Afcari/Shutterstock

 

Climate campaigners are cheering Wednesday in response to the news that Dutch pension fund ABP—the fifth-largest in the world—is divesting its assets from fossil fuel producers.

“This is really fantastic, after all these years of campaigning, we finally succeeded,” said Liset Meddens, director at Fossielvrij NL, calling the development “a huge victory for the climate, human rights, and all life on Earth.”

“This shows that pressure from below works.”

A statement from ABP announcing the move cited the recent climate reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and IPCC as motivating the decision and also referenced “broad support” for the change from the fund’s 2.4 million civil servant and teacher members.

The change will affect over $17 billion in assets, roughly 3% of the fund’s total, including ABP’s shares in oil giant Shell. The shift comes because, according to ABP board chair Corien Wortmann, the “board sees the need and urgency for a change of course.”

“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,” Wortmann said in a statement.

“Using our influence as a shareholder, ABP will encourage companies that use fossil fuels to become more sustainable,” she said. “We will also continue to advocate for governments to move towards further CO2 pricing in the industry. And we will continue to push for an end to subsidizing fossil fuels.”

The announcement marks a noted shift from June, when Wortmann said that “directly exiting fossil” fuels was not the right move to address the climate crisis.

Meddens of Fossielvrij NL, one of the climate groups that has been campaigning to get ABP to dump its fossil fuel assets, said the reverberations of the fund’s divestiture would be felt widely.

“ABP is the largest pension fund in Europe: the importance of this step at home and abroad cannot be underestimated,” she said. “ABP has admitted that this decision is due to all pension participants and employers who have spoken out and organized.”

“This shows that pressure from below works,” she continued, “As an ordinary citizen, you can make a difference.”

350.org Europe agreed.

“The climate movement is winning!” the group tweeted.

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