FossielvrijNL, an environmental pressure group, has accused Dutch healthcare scheme PFZW of going back on its original plans to reduce its stake in fossil fuel investments.

In 2015, the €238bn pension fund announced it would divest most of its holdings in coal, while reducing its fossil fuel portfolio by 30%, within five years.

FossielvrijNL said that participants and pensioners of PFZW had found that the scheme’s combined investments in the fossil fuel sector had nevertheless increased 14%.

It noted that the scheme still had €3.7bn worth of investments in fossil fuel companies, predominantly oil and gas firms.

Four of them accounted for the highest carbon emissions worldwide, it claimed.

The pressure group noted that, whereas the Dutch government closed coal-fired power plants, coal companies in PFZW’s portfolio intended to build new power plants worldwide.

FossielvrijNL  has asked the fund to exclude fossil fuels from its investment universe, cease investment in coal by 2021 and divest both from oil and gas holdings no later than 2024.

It added that a petition with these demands had already been signed by 1,700 workers in the healthcare sector.

In a response, PFZW stated that it wanted to encourage the transition to a sustainable energy system by being an active shareholder.

It said it had committed to reducing carbon emissions by 50%, rather than halving its financial stake in fossil fuels, adding that it had already achieved a reduction of 40%.

The healthcare scheme attributed the 14% rise of its holdings in fossil fuel firms to “high returns” of the investments.

Explaining its approach, it said that it aimed to sell its stake in the biggest CO2 emitters in the sectors energy, utility companies and materials, “where we can achieve by far the largest gain”.

It said that in the past five years, it had sold 250 of the most polluting fossil fuel companies in favour of investment in frontrunners on sustainable energy, in particular in the sectors materials and electricity firms.