Dutch Pension Announces Fossil Fuel Divestment

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PFZW, the pension fund that covers the Netherlands’ healthcare workers, announced on Tuesday its plans to divest from coal and fossil fuel holdings over the coming years.

It is one of the largest institutional investors yet to voluntarily begin dropping its investments linked to fossil fuels.

From Reuters:

Citing the need to invest in a way that protects the environment, the fund said it would divest completely from coal-related companies by 2020, while investments in fossil fuel companies will be reduced by 30 percent.

“This will take place in four annual steps and result in investments being withdrawn from approximately 250 companies” focused in the energy, utilities and materials sectors, the fund said in a statement.

Maurice Wilbrink, a spokesperson for PGGM, which manages assets for PFZW, said the divestments represent about 5 percent of PFZW’s equity portfolio, or 1.7 billion euros.

“That will be taken from companies in those sectors that score poorly” on measures of efficient resource use, and be reinvested in companies that score well, Wilbrink said.

He said PGGM and PFZW believe the investment change will be “neutral to slightly positive” for medium-term investment returns.

That comes despite the risk that the decision to divest may be poorly timed, given the fall in oil prices over the past year. The fund did not provide data but said in its third-quarter report that commodity-linked investments had “delivered the worst returns” in its investment portfolio, which had a loss of 3.2 percent from the same quarter a year earlier.

PFZW manages a $172 billion (USD) portfolio.

 

Photo by  penagate via Flickr CC

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