Pensioenfonds ING, the closed €26bn pension scheme of ING Bank in the Netherlands, sold a large chunk of its fossil fuel holdings last year. The fund took the decision as part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement.
The news follows a report from TV programme Pointer, which earlier revealed Pensioenfonds PME had not divested entirely from fossil fuels, contrary to what it had claimed.
A press release sent by the programme mentions two members that participated in a meeting with the fund last October. The members were allegedly told Pensioenfonds ING was in the process of selling its holdings in oil and gas stocks.
Responding to a question from IPE, the fund said it will inform members about its new policy next month.
“Between these four walls, we divested mostly from fossil fuels,” the fund’s investment director Wim van Iersel said during the meeting in October, according to one pension fund member, who added that Shell was among the companies that were sold.
Pensioenfonds ING declined to confirm the names of any of the companies it has been selling. The fund only updates its list of exclusions once a year, at the time of the publication of its annual report.
The current list still includes large fossil fuel household names such as Chevron, ExxonMobil and, indeed, Shell.
Pensioenfonds ING announced last April that it would bring its investments in line with the Paris Agreement, including a 50% reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030. The fund does not use a specific benchmark, but said it uses the EU Climate benchmark regulation as a reference for its policy.
Pensioenfonds ING is the first large company pension scheme to say goodbye to fossil fuels. Up until now, only large sector schemes including ABP, PME and Horeca & Catering have divested from oil and gas companies.
Liset Meddens, founder of the Dutch department of the NGO Fossil Free, told Pointer: “Apparently Pensioenfonds ING sees the urgency of the climate crisis and attaches consequences to it. This is especially striking because the sponsor of the pension fund chooses a different route [by continuing to finance fossil fuel extraction].”
ING Bank told Pointer it is aware of its pension fund’s new strategy, adding that it supports making investment portfolios more sustainable. “It remains an independent decision of the fund how to go about this,” the bank said.
This article appeared originally in Pensioen Pro, IPE’s Dutch sister publication.