Amsterdam puts pressure on ABP to divest from fossil fuels

The mayor of Amsterdam, Eberhard van der Laan, has urged ABP, the biggest pension fund in the Netherlands, to divest from fossil fuels, in response to a campaign initiated by climate campaigners Amsterdam Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Amsterdam).

Van der Laan addressed the ABP board in a letter, stressing that “If ABP does not end investments in the fossil fuel industry within a reasonable timeframe, pensions of participants will be at serious risk.”

The municipality of Amsterdam profiles itself as free from fossil fuel divestments, however, more than 70% of its energy is still derived from coal, as campaign group Amsterdam Fossielvrij points out.

Sven Jense of Amsterdam Fossielvrij comments: “Cutting our financial ties to the fossil fuel industry will make our city and our pensions fit for the future. But we also need to set an ambitious time frame to drop these investments and also transition the city’s harbour away from fossil fuels. We don’t want our city to make money out of climate destruction.

Other cities pledging to divest from fossil fuels include Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, Seattle and Melbourne.

ABP is the Dutch pension fund for people working in the government and education sectors, it currently manages about €363bn of assets under management, making it the fifth largest pension fund worldwide.

It has previously faced pressures to divest from fossil fuels and has reduced its holdings in the world’s biggest coal, oil, and gas companies by €5.3bn last year, as reported by InvestmentEurope.

However, the reduction at the time was predominantly driven by a steep decline in commodity prices, according to ABP chair Corien Wortmann-Kool. It could therefore be reversed as commodity prices improve.

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