Dutch civil service scheme ABP will increase the ambitions of its sustainable investment policy – the fund’s president, Corien Wortmann, made the public promise today at a protest in front of ABP’s Amsterdam office organised by Fossil Free against ABP’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.

The €509bn fund has been under fire in recent months for refusing to reconsider its investments in fossil fuels and endorsing the recent appointment of one of its trustees as the director of a fossil fuels lobby club.

As recently as last week, the fund’s headquarters in Heerlen were briefly occupied by Extinction Rebellion protesters who demanded ABP’s immediate divestment from fossil fuels.

“We want to be a leader in the energy transition, but have hitherto shown insufficient leadership,” Wortmann told the protesters at ABP’s Amsterdam office. “Therefore we will formulate new, more ambitious goals to contribute to the Paris Climate Accord,” she added.

Wortmann said the fund will reduce its investments in fossil fuels, but the ABP president failed to make any concrete targets to the disappointment of the protesters.

“The protesters shouted they wanted to hear a concrete date but to no avail. We are not satisfied at all,” a Fossil Free spokesperson told IPE, characterising the speech as “mostly empty promises”.

ABP also said it will assess energy companies more strictly on their ambitions to reduce carbon emissions.

The promise comes just weeks after the pension fund declined to support a resolution by activist group Follow This calling for a more ambitious reduction of Shell’s carbon emissions at the firm’s AGM.

The resolution received 30% of votes as many institutional investors including Dutch healthcare scheme PFZW did vote in favour of it.

ABP will formulate its new climate ambitions “in the next few months” in cooperation with its asset manager APG, and will start executing the new policy only from next year, according to Wortmann.

In the exercise, ABP will be advised by a commission of three university professors which was founded recently by the Dutch association of universities in order to critically follow ABP’s investment policy.

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