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Dutch Pension Fund Dumps Oil Stocks, including Shell, Like Hot Potatoes

Even the Church of England Pensions Board, known more for its hymns than its hardline stance on hydrocarbons, had already ghosted Shell over its “climate stance” last year.

Posted by John Donovan: 8 Feb 24

In a move that’s as shocking as finding out water is wet, a Dutch pension fund, PFZW, has finally decided that maybe, just maybe, holding onto stocks in oil and gas behemoths like Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies isn’t the greenest idea they’ve had. So, they’ve ditched their shares in 310 oil and gas companies, a divestment spree worth around €2.8 billion, because – surprise! – these companies are about as speedy as a snail on sedatives when it comes to cutting emissions.

PFZW, sitting on a golden nest egg of €238 billion, had a lightbulb moment after a two-year “engagement programme” that basically involved asking these fossil fuel fiends nicely to please stop wrecking the planet. Spoiler alert: The plea fell on deaf ears. “Most of our fossil fuel investments have now been sold off, as these companies have made insufficient steps in the transition to a cleaner energy mix,” PFZW stated, in a tone that might as well have been accompanied by a slow clap.

And here’s the kicker: PFZW isn’t just taking its money and running. It’s also bowing out of leading climate negotiations with Shell on behalf of the Climate Action 100+, a group with a casual $68 trillion lying around. This is kind of a big deal since they’ve been at the climate chit-chat table with Shell since the heady days of 2022. Even the Church of England Pensions Board, known more for its hymns than its hardline stance on hydrocarbons, had already ghosted Shell over its “climate stance” last year.

Shell, ever the beacon of environmental stewardship, responded with a shrug that could be felt across the North Sea. “We appreciate societal perceptions in the Netherlands, but this decision has no benefit to the climate. It will not change actual use of energy and continues to portray an incorrect understanding of the needed changes to today’s energy system.” Translation: “Thanks for the feedback, but we’re good. Also, you don’t get it.”

Never mind that Shell proudly announced it threw $5.6 billion at low carbon and renewable business in 2023, which sounds impressive until you realize it’s only 23% of their total annual splurge. Last year? A measly 17%. At this rate of change, we can expect Shell to be fully green by the time the sun expands and swallows the Earth.

So, hats off to PFZW for finally deciding to not back the environmental equivalent of lighting a cigar with a burning rainforest. As for Shell, they seem to be sticking to their guns, presumably because switching to a water pistol at this point just wouldn’t look as cool.

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