DENMARK – Danish pension funds are keeping society dependent on fossil fuels through their investment, and not using their huge potential for investment in renewable energy, research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has concluded.

The study, carried out by the Danish branch of the WWF, ranks the country's eight largest funds according to how climate-friendly their investment is, based on data available on pension fund websites and direct responses from the funds themselves.

None of the big funds achieved more than 50% of the potential score, the organisation said.

PKA achieved the highest score out of the eight pension funds, with five out of a possible 10 points, followed by PensionDanmark and PFA, with four each.

ATP, Danica Pension, Industriens Pension and Nordea Life & Pension took joint third place with two points each, while Sampension came in last with just one point.

The ranking is based on a range of parameters the WWF sees as contributing to making a pension fund climate-aware, including investment goals and exclusion lists.

The WWF noted that a broad majority of the Danish parliament supported the aim of making Denmark independent of fossil fuels by 2050.

"But if we – and the rest of the world – are to achieve this goal, everyone, and to a great extent financially strong investors, have to pull society in the right direction and stop investing money in fossil energy," it said.

None of the pension funds in the study set a clear and quantitative target to increase their investments in sustainable energy and energy-efficiency technology, the WWF said.

"This is in spite of the fact most pension funds say their investment takes account of climate and green energy," the study said.

Only PensionDanmark, PFA and PKA had clearly stated that they focused on increasing investment in green energy, but they had still not set a tangible target, it said.

Among its conclusions, the study said pension funds generally focused more on creating the maximum possible economic return than on investing on the basis of ethics and safeguarding of social responsibility, as most claimed they did.

It also said current legislation did not encourage pension funds' green investments, but instead constituted a barrier with its relatively narrow focus on economic returns.

While several of the pension funds did invest in green energy in one form or another, this was primarily as part of their efforts to diversify investments as much as possible – few had a renewable energy and energy efficiency investment focus, the WWF concluded.

Also, even those pension funds investing most purposefully in green energy also invested in fossil energy.

"None of the participating pension funds has the aim of pulling out of investment in fossil fuel sources," it said.