Press release / 14 mei 2017

Criticism of Dutch pension fund ABP’s investments in coal, oil and gas

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.

ABP's total investment in coal, the most risky and climate-disrupting polluter, was 4.3 billion euros in December 2016. That is 18% more than a year earlier. "This is in stark contrast to the intention to be a fully sustainable pension fund by 2020, as ABP announced last year," says Both ENDS' Cindy Coltman. "In order to achieve that, ABP should start by selling off all investments in coal, but the opposite has happened."


A large number of coal companies in which ABP invests plan to expand capacity. "Altogether it adds to more than 239,000 megawatts, almost five times as much as Russia now owns, and more than fifty times the coal capacity of the Netherlands," said Heffa Schucking of urgewald. "Of course, in the light of the Climate Agreement of Paris, this is unacceptable."


Oil and gas
Investments in oil and gas companies increased by 23% last year, to 6.9 billion euros in December 2016. Of significant note are ExxonMobil (832 million euros) and Shell (472 million euros).


Liset Meddens of Fossielvrij NL: "It is unacceptable for these companies to continue to explore and dig for new reserves when we know that if we use up all the reserves from the oil and gas fields that are currently operational, the temperature on Earth would already rise more than 2 degrees Celsius."


Human suffering
In addition to the impact of coal, oil and gas on the climate, their exploration and production has too often disastrous consequences for people and the environment in which they live.


In Indonesia, for example, ABP invests in the three companies behind the construction of the Batang Power Plant, the largest coal power plant in Indonesia. Protesting residents are intimidated and threatened by these companies, under the supervision of the local police. However, ABP has expanded its investments in these companies between June and December 2016.


ABP also has an investment of 379 million euros in three of Colombia's largest coal mining companies: BHP Billiton, Glencore and Anglo American. Colombia's coal mining is accompanied by gross violence against the locals, displacement from homes, disappearances and murders.


"The examples from our report show pensioners at ABP the local impact of the projects in which their pension funds are invested," says Coltman of Both ENDS.


Increase ambition level
Heffa Shucking: "Our report can be considered as a shadow report of the Sustainable and Responsible Report 2016, published by ABP itself on Monday, 8 May 2017. ABP has good intentions, but at present it is not clear under what conditions and within which period ABP will withdraw its fossil fuel investments. We want to encourage ABP to sharpen the ambitions of its investment policy. "


"ABP does not seem to realize that just by continuing to invest in the fossil fuel sector, this sector is being further stimulated," says Meddens of Fossielvrij NL. "It's not just about coal, oil and gas extraction, but also for the entire infrastructure around it. Ports, pipelines, power stations, roads, the whole circus must be uprooted for an energy transition that we have internationally agreed we want to get there as soon as possible!"


The authors of the report therefore call on ABP to provide much more openness about their investments in the fossil fuel sector, reduce all investments in coal by the end of 2017 and over the next five years reduce their investments in oil and gas to zero.


Information for the press (not for publication)


For more information, see here:
The report (in English) 
The Executive Summary in English 
The Executive Summary in Dutch 


Contact persons in the Netherlands:
• Cindy Coltman (Both ENDS): / 06-25524361
• Liset Meddens (Fossielvrij NL): / 06-41277905


Contact person in Germany: 
• Heffa Schucking (urgewald): / +49 16096761436

For more information

Read more about this subject