Not so green? Dutch pension giants under fire for ‘weak climate signal’
New probe finds the funds voted in favour of less than 70% of climate shareholder resolutions
A range of Dutch pension giants have come under fire over their approach to green shareholder wishlists.
Netherlands-based pension funds ABP, bpfBouw, PWRI, SPH and SPMS are sending out a “weak climate signal” by backing less than 70% of “pro-climate” shareholder votes, according to an investigation by Dutch NGOs Groen Pensioen and BothEnds.
Pension fund PME scored 100% in terms of voting pro-climate, while BPL, PF Vervoer, PFZW, PMT and PNO Media were shown to have a “mixed climate signal” backing 70-89% of the climate votes.
When contacted by the authors of the report on a mixed voting record on climate, a spokesperson for PFZW said: “We support all resolutions that we believe will encourage companies to meaningfully and immediately engage in the energy transition and whose requests will have a positive impact on both the world and company.
“Some, however, requested changes that we believe the company is not able to comply with, would not have the desired positive impact on the world, or jeopardise their long term financial performance.”
The report assessed a list of “key climate votes”, which consisted of 25 resolutions on the agenda of major oil and gas companies, and 21 resolutions of primarily banks, but also investors which according to the NGOs without whom expansion and exploration projects would not be possible.
In analysing the voting patterns on climate resolutions, the report also found that none of the climate-related resolutions were passed at shareholder meetings due to a lack of votes in favour.
Continuing Dutch engagement in climate space
While ABP scored only 59% on ‘pro-climate’ voting, it is also in a transition year from fully divesting from fossil fuel producers.
Responding to the report, a spokesperson for ABP said: “We no longer invest in the oil and gas sector because we do not believe they will align with Paris".
He added: "Asking a company to cease its core business activities is not part of exerting influence on companies – if you do not want to invest in a company, you should not invest in it.”
Eight Dutch pension funds were found to own shares in JP Morgan Chase, which is the largest among the banks that increased their fossil fuel financing in 2020-2021.
Two climate-related JP Morgan Chase resolutions were included in the research, (‘Adoption of a fossil fuel financing policy consistent with the IEA’s Net Zero 2050 scenario’ and ‘Report on absolute targets for financing GHG emissions in line with Net Zero Commitments’).
Six out of eight pension funds – ABP, PFZW, bpfBouw, BPL, PF Vervoer and PWRI – voted in favour. However, neither of these JP Morgan Chase resolutions passed overall.
Earlier this year, PFZW, the Dutch pension fund for the Netherlands’ care and welfare sector, divested €300m from 78 oil and gas firms due to their perceived failure to adapt to the directives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.