In a letter which was recently sent by the City of Utrecht to the pension fund ABP, the municipality is asking them “to withdraw any investments from the fossil industry as quickly as possible, starting with coal, nuclear and shale gas”. The municipality points out the financial risks of the carbon bubble, and states that the pension fund should act in the interest of the municipality and its employees and invest in sustainable, and future-proof assets.

Freek Bersch, initiator of the Utrecht Fossil Free campaign said:

“Utrecht is following Amsterdam on rejecting investments of pension money in the fossil fuel industry, and after Utrecht hopefully many more municipalities and provinces will  follow to increase the pressure on the ABP to divest”.

ABP is the largest pension fund in the Netherlands and the fifth largest pension fund in the world. All employees in the government and education sector are obliged to build up pension at the ABP. As many as 1 out of 6 people in the Netherlands receive or will receive a pension from ABP in the future.

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Background

This positive development is the outcome of the local campaign of the fossil fuel divestment movement (supported by 350.org) which started in Utrecht early in 2014. On March 4th, 2014, the Utrecht Fossil Free group sent a letter to the executive board and the council of the municipality of Utrecht, calling the municipality to divest from the fossil fuel industry and to determine ambitious climate targets for an effective energy transition. That letter was ending by emphasising on the need to work together in order to avoid an irreversible climate crisis, and by asking the municipality to initiate a dialogue on this crucial topic. In April 2015, Freek Bersch, who acted on behalf of the Utrecht Fossil Free group, met with Robert de Geus, Treasurer of the municipality of Utrecht, and had a discussion about, inter alia, the carbon bubble.

This news was covered by several Dutch financial outlets – find the FD article and RTL-Z article here –  and was widely shared on Twitter with #ABPfossielvrij