October 5, 2020

Teachers demand fossil-free retirement in protest at Dutch pension fund ABP

Amsterdam, Netherlands — Teachers staged a protest with blackboards and a banner outside Dutch pension fund ABP’s office in Amsterdam this morning, for their retirement savings to be invested fossil free.

ABP, Europe’s biggest pension fund manages the retirement savings of Dutch employees in government and education sectors, and invests €17.4bn in fossil fuel corporations such as Shell, ExxonMobil and BP. [1] Members of Teachers for Climate urged ABP Chair Corien Wortmann-Kool to divest the fund from coal, oil and gas companies as the primary drivers of climate breakdown.

Geography teacher Wieneke Maris who is involved in Teachers for Climate says: “As teachers we work hard every day to prepare our students for their future as best as we can. It is perverse that our pensions are invested in fossil fuels, which pose a direct threat to our students’ future.

Banner outside the Dutch pension fund ABP office in Amsterdam reads, ‘The last warning: ABP stop fossil fuel investments now’. Photo: Teresa Borasino


The teachers carried a big banner that read in Dutch, “Last warning: ABP, stop investing in fossils now.” They delivered blackboards with their demands to an ABP board member Xander den Uyl.

“We used permanent markers because our message is not one that can just be wiped off,” says biology teacher Erik Lu. “We are calling on all teachers today to join us and make sure the ABP listens. Our students are going on climate strike en masse. It’s time for us teachers to take action too.”

Dutch teacher Frank holds a lesson outside the ABP office in Amsterdam explaining why the pension funds needs to divest from fossil fuels. Photo: Teresa Borasino


The Fossil Free ABP campaign, which kicked off in 2014, has sparked a public debate about the pension fund’s fossil fuel investments. Under increasing pressure, the ABP has halved its investments in fossil fuels. Campaigners are determined to achieve a complete phaseout through a renewed push with ABP members. Fossielvrij NL launched a letter-writing campaign for teachers today, to get their schools’ headmasters to urge the ABP to go fossil free.

“We have seen in the past already that pressure from ABP members themselves works,” says Liset Meddens of Fossielvrij NL. “Over the past five years, the ABP has reduced its fossil fuel investments substantially but the biggest polluters are still in their portfolio. We know that it will take more than a single action or some letters. That is why we’re mobilising teachers across the country today to build up a network of local groups that keeps pushing for an ABP free from fossil fuels.”

Around the world, 1244 institutions managing funds of $14.48tn have already committed to divest from fossil fuels.



[1] ABP fossil fuel investments, see p.26 of ABP’s sustainability report 2019 (pdf, Dutch)

Photos from the teachers’ protest are available on the Fossielvrij NL Flickr