Press release / 26 maart 2019

Wealthy Dutch investors to disinvest personal capital worth 200 million euros from the fossil industry

Joint press release from Both ENDS and Fossielvrij NL - 26 March 2019

A group of 22 wealthy Dutch investors have decided to disinvest all their personal capital, worth a total of 200 million euros, from the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies. The investors have pledged to disinvest all their capital from the fossil industry within three to five years. By doing so, they are giving a clear signal that they do not want their capital to contribute to disastrous climate change.

By signing the pledge, the Dutch investors are joining the worldwide DivestInvest movement that has already resulted in more than eight billion dollars being disinvested from the fossil industry – almost ten times the entire GNP of the Netherlands. As leaders of the movement in the Netherlands, the pledgers are showing that resolute action is required to ensure that a liveable climate remains within reach. Together they make up the Dutch DivestInvest network that is supported by Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL and Stichting DOEN.

Why sign up?

Frank van Beuningen, founder of Pymwymic: "It is time that we investors spoke out. We normally say nothing but it is time to step forward. Now. Stop fossil energy. Stop using your capital to finance a climate crisis."

Jan Willem Nieuwenhuys, Director of Fair Capital Partners: "Money changes the world. It has an enormous impact on how companies and people behave. In the past fifteen years, sustainable investment has become the norm. But we're not there yet. We need to take the next step to become 100% sustainable and Divest Invest is part of that step! We have to combine our financial strength to persuade stock exchange investors to change course. To pursue the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and make the world better and ready for the following generations. Money offers us the opportunity to exert influence and make the world better and fairer."

Leonard van Oord: fifth generation of the Van Oord family dredging business. Full-time student and active in various initiatives and organisations including Pymwymic, NEXUS and Yunus Social Business: "We are aware that if we are serious about our concerns for the climate, we have to put our words into deeds. That doesn't apply only to these 22 investors, it is a choice everyone can make. And that is precisely what we hope to inspire with this pledge. That people conduct a dialogue with their financial partners and see how things can be done differently. Because we have to do things differently, in the interests of our shared future."

Margaret McGovern, Irish/Californian entrepreneur and investor, and co-founder of Pywymic: "Investing in fossil energy is the worst kind of short-term thinking. I call it 'disaster capitalism'. The very real costs of the damage caused are not reflected on the balance sheet."

International support

The international DivestInvest movement also supports the Dutch pledgers:

Justin Rockefeller, Chairman, The ImPact; Member of the Investment Committee, Rockefeller Brothers Fund: "I'm thrilled to be joined in the DivestInvest movement by Dutch investors who recognize that what people and institutions do with money has moral consequences, including how we earn, spend, donate, and invest it. By aligning their values and their investments, they're empowering others to follow their moral leadership, and addressing the existential threat posed by climate change."

Mark Sainsbury trustee of the Mark Leonard, JJ Charitable and Linbury Trusts: "While divesting from fossil fuels is relatively easy in practice, speaking out publicly about it takes courage and leadership. These Dutch families are sending a powerful message - it's time for industry, society and the financial markets to move beyond fossil fuels for the benefit of everyone."

Reactions of the initiators

Liset Meddens of Fossielvrij NL: "It is wonderful to see that wealthy Dutch investors are now also turning their backs on the fossil industry. The movement is growing very rapidly. We can only break the power of the fossil multinationals and create political space for effective measures against climate change if we show leadership and make tough and clear choices."

Danielle Hirsch of Both ENDS is delighted that the pledge has been signed by so many people. "The climate movement is multifaceted and has its roots in all parts of society. With this pledge, a group of Dutch investors who do not like to be in the spotlight are sending out a strong signal in the public debate; if we want to stop climate change, everyone will have to take action. It is no longer acceptable that we make economic profit from an industry that is putting our future at risk."

What next?

The pledgers are all addressing their promise in their own ways. The ultimate aim is of course to persuade many more people and organisations to stop investing in the fossil industry. They are doing that by drawing attention to the issue in their own networks of contacts, organisations and partners. Together with the initiators, they will also challenge banks, pension funds and other financial service providers to go green and want to make it possible for everyone to join the movement. People can already put their savings in an account at a green bank, and everyone can sign the worldwide DivestInvest pledge, committing themselves to take their savings out of the fossil industry within three years.

Three overarching reasons

The Dutch investors are making this pledge for three reasons:

  • the moral conviction that we should leave all fossil reserves in the ground to avoid a catastrophic climate crisis,
  • the financial-economic belief that the fossil industry is a declining market
  • the fiduciary obligation to invest responsibly by taking long-term uncertainties seriously in current investment strategies.

About DivestInvest

DivestInvest is a worldwide movement supported in the Netherlands by an informal alliance of people, companies and organisations including Frank van Beuningen (Pymwymic), Stephen Brenninkmeijer (Willow Investments), Sarah Butler-Sloss (Ashden Trust), Mark Sainsbury (Mark Leonard Trust), Fossielvrij NL and Both ENDS, and with financial support from Stichting DOEN.

The worldwide movement includes organisations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a large number of religious institutions, the pension funds of New York and other cites, and a wide range of universities including the London School of Economics. Since the movement was formed in 2012, some eight billion dollars have already been disinvested in the fossil industry.

See here the pledge that the investors have signed.

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