The mayor of Amsterdam put pressure on the Dutch pension fund ABP to pull its investments out of coal, oil and gas companies over concerns about irreversible climate change.

In a letter to the board of the world’s fifth-largest pension fund, which manages the pension savings of municipal employees in the Netherlands, mayor Eberhard van der Laan writes, “If ABP does not end investments in the fossil fuel industry within a reasonable timeframe, pensions of participants will be at serious risk.”

Van der Laan writes that his call is a response to the Amsterdam Fossielvrij (Fossil Free Amsterdam) campaign and the city’s decision to rid itself of investments that are incompatible with its aim to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in order to prevent irreversible climate impacts.

Amsterdam, 14-02-2015, Global Divestment Day Amsterdam. Photo: Nichon Glerum

Amsterdam, 14-02-2015, Global Divestment Day Amsterdam. Photo: Nichon Glerum


Sven Jense of Amsterdam Fossielvrij commented, “Cutting our financial ties to the fossil fuel industry will make our city and our pensions fit for the future. But we also need to set  an ambitious time frame to drop these investments – and also transition the city’s harbour away from fossil fuels. We don’t want our city to make money out of climate destruction.”

Amsterdam’s call comes as more and more cities commit to banning investments in fossil fuels, including Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, Seattle and Melbourne.

The EU recently decided that pension funds in the EU will need to assess climate change and risks related to the depreciation of assets, and disclose how these factors are considered in investment decisions. The Central Bank of the Netherlands also warned of the risks of the ‘carbon bubble’ earlier this year, as most fossil fuels cannot be burnt to avoid runaway climate change and fossil fuel assets will lose value as a consequence.

Last year, over 12,000 members of the pension fund have called on the ABP to drop their investments in fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Citizen-led campaign Amsterdam Fossielvrij kicked off a year ago. Since then, the city has launched research into its financial ties to fossil fuel companies. The campaign also urges the city to transition the city’s port away from fossil fuels. Through the world’s biggest oil harbour and Europe’s second largest coal port, the city is complicit in climate destruction and exposes public money to a high financial risk.