Making pension funds more sustainable
Pension funds have a lot of influence because of their enormous assets. Both ENDS therefore wants pension funds such as the Dutch ABP to withdraw their investments from the fossil industry and to invest sustainably instead.
Pension funds are major investors. For example, the Dutch pension fund for the public sector, the General Civil Pension Fund (ABP), is one of the largest pension funds in the world; one in six Dutch people is a participant. The total invested capital of ABP amounts to more than 400 billion euros.
Fossil investments contribute to climate change
Pension funds invest their money worldwide to guarantee a good pension for their members. Unfortunately, short-term profits are often considered more important than a sustainable future for people and the environment. Many pension funds invest large amounts in the fossil fuel industry, such as coal plants or oil and gas companies. Their investments in the fossil companies enable this industry to continue their activities, because those investments must be earned back.
However, people in the Global South are experiencing the effects of climate change earlier and harder than people in the Global North. At the same time, women and men in the Global South are also front line environmental defenders, and fighting the expansion of fossil fuel extraction in their localities. We think that global investors have a proactive role to play in our collective aim for 1.5 degrees as the red line for global warming.
That is why fossil investments by pension funds must be phased out as soon as possible. As a result, the fossil companies will lose their social license to operate, which speeds up progress in realising the Paris Climate Agreement. In Paris, the world has agreed to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and thereby limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
Pension funds also invest in industries that are known for their major human rights and environmental issues, such as mining, and soy and palm oil plantations.
Tracking ABP's investments
Both ENDS wants to encourage pension funds to divest their assets from harmful sectors. We focus primarily on ABP, the largest pension fund in the Netherlands. ABP wants to be a "sustainable pension fund", as stated in its Vision 2020.
The analysis that Both ENDS, FossielVrij Netherlands and German urgewald have been doing of ABP's investments, however, show that not much of that is yet coming true. In both 2016 and 2017, ABP turned out to have invested more in coal, oil and gas than in the previous year. We think this is not in line with ABP's own vision, but it cannot be reconciled with "Paris" either. That is why we will continue to critically monitor ABP's investments, together with FossielVrij Netherlands.
Other major investors from all over the world have already shown that it is possible. Various pension funds, such as New York City's five pension funds, have withdrawn all their investments in the fossil industry. The Dutch BPL, the pension fund to which Both ENDS is affiliated, has divested from the coal industry.
Moreover, in early 2019 a group of wealthy Dutch people decided to remove all their personal assets from the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies. These Dutch people are part of the Dutch branch of the worldwide DivestInvest movement, which is supported by Both ENDS, Fossielvrij Netherlands and Stichting DOEN. By investing in climate solutions such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and efficient water use instead of polluting sectors, the DivestInvest movement wants to stimulate climate action and accelerate the energy transition.
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News / 1 May 2019
Amsterdam 1 May 2019 - Dutch pension fund ABP's 'sustainable and responsible investment report’ today suggests that the pension fund is well on track in terms attaining its internal sustainability goals. However, an analysis by Fossielvrij NL, Both ENDS, urgewald and Greenpeace shows that ABP remains on a collision course with the Paris climate goals. At the end of 2018, ABP still invested 16.5 billion Euros in the fossil industry. ABP's investments in the world's 44 largest climate polluters even increased between 2016 and 2018.
Publication / 9 May 2018
Press release / 9 May 2018
New research by Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL and urgewald shows that, in 2017, pension fund ABP invested 500 million euros more in coal, oil and gas than in the previous year – a total of 10.9 billion euros. These investments in fossil fuels not only stand in sharp contrast to ABP's claim that it has achieved substantial successes in its climate policy, but are also in flagrant violation of the Paris climate agreement. Unlike international forerunners among pension funds, ABP continues unabated to invest in the fossil energy sector.
Publication / 9 May 2018
Press release / 14 May 2017
The Dutch pension fund, ABP, invested about two billion euros more in the fossil energy industry at the end of 2016 than the year before. This is announced by the report "Dirty & Dangerous: the fossil fuel investments of Dutch pension fund ABP," published today by Both ENDS, German urgewald and Fossielvrij NL. The report criticizes these investments because of the impact on the climate and the catastrophic consequences for the people in the areas where coal, oil and gas are being produced.
Publication / 14 May 2017
Publication / 14 May 2017
News / 2 July 2012
Last week the Agricultural Investment Summit took place in London, seeking to promote land as an emerging and expanding investment opportunity. Civil society organisations are concerned that this could lead to further land grabbing, threatening the livelihoods and food security of countless local communities in the global South. In a joint civil society statement Both ENDS urges pension funds and other financial institutions to stop such damaging investment practices.