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EU’s Biggest Pension Fund to Dump $17 Billion in Fossil Fuels

ABP announces divestment plan as investors with $39 trillion prepare to offload fossil fuels

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Europe’s biggest pension fund, ABP of the Netherlands, has joined a growing number of investment managers blacklisting fossil fuels as the finance industry gives in to pressure from activists and customers alarmed at the prospect of a climate catastrophe caused by carbon emissions. 

ABP said Tuesday it will divest 15 billion euros ($17.4 billion) worth of fossil-fuel assets by early 2023. The fund said it doesn’t expect the decision to hurt long-term returns and added that the move will allow it to unveil a more ambitious CO2 reduction goal next year. The announcement underpins the speed with which the investment industry is turning its back on oil, gas and coal, with 1,500 asset managers overseeing a combined $39.2 trillion now committed to offloading such holdings, DivestInvest said in a separate release.

The development marks a huge shift over the past seven years. Back in 2014, when DivestInvest first tallied such commitments, funds turning their backs on fossil fuels represented just $52 billion. So far in 2021, the $16 billion Ford Foundation, started by the son of Henry Ford and now ranked among the world’s largest private foundations, said it will cease to invest in fossil fuels. Harvard University’s $42 billion endowment made a similar pledge and Maine became the first U.S. state to order its public pension fund to sell off fossil-fuel holdings.

New York City’s pension funds have announced plans to divest about $4 billion worth of fossil fuel-related investments and Canada’s second-largest pension manager, Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec, has said it will sell billions of dollars worth of oil assets, including large equity stakes in Canada’s top crude producers, as part of a new strategy that aims to dramatically cut the emissions from its investments. Fidelity International unveiled plans Tuesday to halve the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio by 2030.