Press release / 8 July 2021

After Shell ruling, banks, pension funds and insurance companies now have to take action

Civil society organisations send urgent letter on climate to financial sector


Amsterdam, 8 July 2021 – The Shell ruling has consequences for the financiers of major climate polluters. That is the message in a letter from a number of civil society organisations, including Oxfam Novib, Eerlijke Geldwijzer, Milieudefensie, Greenpeace and Both ENDS, to the biggest banks, pension funds and insurance companies in the Netherlands. In the letter, they call on the financial institutions to reduce CO2 emissions from loans and investments in line with the 1.5 degrees goal laid down in the Paris climate agreement.

More companies taken to court

Last May a law court in The Hague ruled that oil company Shell should drastically reduce its CO2 emissions. The court reached this ruling because Shell was causing dangerous climate change that also threatened to violate human rights. In their letter, the civil society organisations say that the major banks, pension funds and insurance companies bear similar responsibility for the CO2 emissions of their loans and investments and thus call for far-reaching measures to be imposed on the financial sector. "Financial institutions must take their responsibility and stop financing coal, oil and gas," says Faiza Oulahsen, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace. "It is a question of time before individuals and civil society organisations call more companies to account by taking them to court. That is a risk for institutions that finance major polluters."

Fine words, insufficient action

The organisations that defend the environment and human rights hear fine words from the banks, pension funds and insurance companies in the Netherlands, but too little decisive action to tackle the climate crisis. While high temperature records are continually broken, ice caps melt, forests burn and more and more people see their lives disrupted as a consequence of dangerous climate change, financial institutions continue to fund fossil fuels. "ING financed fossil energy companies to the tune of some 6.5 billion dollars in 2020," says Peter Ras of the Eerlijke Geldwijzer. "The ABP pension fund even doubled its investment in Shell at the end of last year. That is not taking your responsibility, but fanning the flames of climate change."

Appeal to the biggest financial institutions

The civil society organisations appeal to the biggest financial institutions in the Netherlands to take resolute action to tackle climate change. They call for five measures:

• Bring all investments and loans in line with the 1.5 degrees goal of the Paris Agreement.

• Set concrete intermediate goals for reducing CO2 for 2025, 2030 and 2040.

• Put an immediate stop to the financing and insurance of projects for new fossil infrastructure and coal, oil and gas extraction.

• Make a plan to stop current financial support for the fossil industry.

• Submit transparent reports on the measures taken.

The letter has been sent to the CEOs and chairs of the boards of banks ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank, pension funds ABP and PFZW, insurance companies NN Group (Nationale Nederlanden), Achmea and Aegon, and credit insurance agency Atradius.

It is undersigned by Greenpeace Netherlands, Oxfam Novib, Eerlijke Geldwijzer, BankTrack, Milieudefensie, Urgenda, Natuur & Milieu, Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL, Oil Change International, Hivos, Groen Pensioen and SOMO. The organisations want a response from the financial institutions before the climate summit in Glasgow at the end of October.

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