Affluent Dutch individuals divest 200 million from the fossil fuel industry

Amsterdam – 26 maart 2019 – Both ENDS en Fossielvrij NL – A group of 22 affluent individuals in the Netherlands have decided to remove their personal wealth from the top 200 oil, gas and coal companies. In total, this involves a personal capital of around 200 million euros. The 22 philanthropists and impact investors pledged to relocate the divested funds within the next three to five years and invest in sustainable options. They thereby send a clear signal that they do not want their capital to contribute to causing disastrous climate change.

By signing the pledge, the Dutch are joining the worldwide Divestment movement, which has mobilised more than 8 trillion USD in assets divested from fossil fuels. That is almost 10 times as much as the entire GDP of the Netherlands. The pledgers show that decisive action is needed to keep a liveable climate within reach. The pledgers form the Dutch DivestInvest network that is supported by Both ENDS, Fossielvrij NL and Stichting DOEN.

Pledgers Frank van Beuningen, Margaret McGovern and Leonard van Oord

Why sign?
Frank van Beuningen, founder of Pymwymic: “It’s time for us, those who are lucky enough to be privileged and normally are schooled to keep quiet to speak up. Time has come to step up and step forward. Get out of fossil fuels. Stop using your capital to fund climate disaster”.

Jan Willem Nieuwenhuys, Director of Fair Capital Partners: “Money changes the world. It has an immense impact on the behavior of companies and people. Sustainable investing has become the norm in the last fifteen years. But we are not there yet. The next step is essential for 100% sustainability. DivestInvest is part of the next step! Joining forces against publicly listed polluters to
force them to change course.”

Leonard van Oord, 5th generation of the Van Oord dredging family. Full-time student and also active in (and with) various initiatives and organizations such as Pymwymic, NEXUS and Yunus Social Business: “We are aware that if we are sincere in our concerns about the climate, we must also put actions to the words. This does not only apply to these 22 people, that is a choice that anyone can make. The latter is exactly what we hope to inspire with this pledge. That people enter into discussions with their financial parties and see that things can also be done differently. Because it has to be done differently, in the interest of our shared future.”

Margaret McGovern, entrepreneur and co-founder of Pymwymic: “Investing in fossil fuel energy is the worst kind of short-term thinking. I also call it ‘disaster capitalism’. The very real costs of the damage suffered are not reflected in the balance sheet. ”

International support
The international DivestInvest movement also supports the Dutch pledgers: Justin Rockefeller, Chairman, The ImPact; Member of the Investment Committee, Rockefeller Brothers Fund: “I’m thrilled to be joined in the DivestInvest movement by Dutch investors who recognize what people and institutions do with money has moral consequences, including how we earn, spend, donate, and invest it. By aligning their values and their investments, they’re empowering others to follow their moral leadership, and addressing the threat posed by climate change.”

Mark Sainsbury, trustee of Mark Leonard, JJ Charitable and Linbury Trusts: “While divesting from fossil fuels is relatively easy in practice, speaking out publicly about it takes courage and leadership. These Dutch families are sending a powerful message – it’s time for industry, society and the financial markets to move beyond fossil fuels for the benefit of everyone.”

Reactions from the initiators
Liset Meddens from Fossielvrij NL: “It is great to see that now also the Dutch wealthy are turning their back on the fossil industry. The movement is growing very fast. Only if we show leadership and make sharp choices can we break through the power of fossil fuel multinationals and create political space in time for decisive action against climate change. ”

Danielle Hirsch from Both ENDS is very pleased that the pledge has been signed by a large number of people. “The climate movement is versatile and has its roots in all parts of society. With this pledge, a group of Dutch people who do not like to put themselves in the foreground send a powerful signal in the public debate; if we want to tackle climate change, everyone will have to take steps. It is no longer acceptable that we get economic gain from an industry that risks our future.”

What now?
The pledgers will all get to work with this promise in their own way. Ultimately, of course, the goal is to motivate many more people and organizations to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry. The pledgers will do this by speaking about the issue to the contacts, organizations and cooperation partners in their own network. But in addition, together with the initiators, they will challenge
banks, pension funds and other financial service providers to move in a more sustainable direction and they want to make it possible for everyone to get involved in fossil-free investments. Already, anyone who wants to can put their savings in a green bank, and you can sign the worldwide DivestInvest pledge, with which you commit yourself to taking your savings away from fossil fuel investments within three to five years.

Three overriding reasons
The Dutch pledgers make this commitment for three reasons:
– the moral conviction that we must do more to leave the world in good shape for our future generations by keeping all fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avert a catastrophic climate crisis,
– the financial and economic belief that the fossil fuel industry is a declining market, and
– the fiduciary obligation to invest responsibly by taking long-term uncertainties seriously in the current investment strategy.

About DivestInvest
DivestInvest is a global movement supported in the Netherlands by an informal partnership of people, companies and organizations including Frank van Beuningen (Pymwymic), Stephen Brenninkmeijer (Willow Investments), Sarah Butler-Sloss (Ashden Trust), Mark Sainsbury (Mark Leonard Trust) ), Fossielvrij NL, Both ENDS and with financial support from the Stichting DOEN foundation.

The global Divestment movement includes organisations like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a large number of religious institutions, the New York City pension fund and other cities and a wide range of universities, including the London School of Economics. Since the movement started around 2012, 8 trillion dollars in assets have already been moved.

Download the pledge that has been signed here.