ABP pension fund administers the pensions of over 5,500 members of the University of Groningen’s staff. ‘We believe that investing in fossil fuels and unhealthy products is irreconcilable with the University’s vision. The Board of the University and the University Council have written a joint letter calling on the ABP to invest our pension savings in more sustainable and healthy options,’ says deputy chair of the University Council Pieter Polhuis.
About ten percent of ABP’s portfolio is invested in fossil power. The signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement have committed to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees Celsius. We must all do our bit to ensure we remain below this critical limit. The University of Groningen has taken its responsibility with its Roadmap 2015-2020, the plan which sees the University energy neutral by 2020.
Investment in fossil fuels will delay the transition. Plus, investing in the fossil industry has become risky, because we will soon be using less fossil energy in order to achieve our climate goals. What is more, research by the University has shown that the performance of a portfolio without fossil energy companies does not differ significantly from one with fossil energy companies. Fossil-free investments are therefore a good thing. In specific terms, the University is asking ABP to stop investing in fossil fuels and to invest in sustainable alternatives. It is also asking ABP to urge companies in its investment portfolios to take sufficient measures to prevent climate change.
The Board of the University and the University Council also support the recent call from the chair of the Board of the UMCG to stop investing in the tobacco industry which is so damaging to people’s health. This industry is at odds with what the University and the UMCG hope to achieve with their multidisciplinary Healthy Ageing research programme. The programme is helping to find solutions to the societal and health problems caused by ageing. Pieter Polhuis: ‘We are calling on ABP to stop investing in the tobacco industry or related companies, and, like the University of Groningen, to present a clear vision, in which it takes its responsibility for working towards a healthier society.’
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