Paris proofing public financial support

High time to phase out support for fossil fuel industries 

In 2017 Both ENDS stepped up its efforts to stop the Dutch government from supporting the fossil fuel industry. Phasing out fossil fuels is key to achieving the goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement, to which our government has committed itself. To Both ENDS, there is another reason to advocate for this: fossil fuel-related projects often have disastrous effects for the poorest people in the Global South. In Colombia, for instance, more than 50.000 farmers were driven off their land to make place for large-scale coal mines that supply the European markets, while the construction of oil infrastructure off the coast of Brazil threatens the livelihoods of coastal communities. The truth is, there are still large sums of public money supporting the extraction of fossil fuels. Both ENDS and partners have mapped these capital flows, and use this to advocate with Dutch parliamentarians.

FLAGGING THE ISSUE

In 2017, we singled out two big players. First, there is the Dutch Export Credit Agency (Atradius DSB), which provides insurances and guarantees on behalf of the Dutch state to exporters and investors operating abroad. In a report published in June, we reveal that ADSB insured 7,3 billion euro worth of projects related to the fossil fuel sector between 2012 and 2015. This is two-thirds of its total portfolio over that same period. We continued our advocacy with a position paper co-authored by Milieudefensie, in which we call on the government to stop all support to fossil fuels. Several politicians have committed to putting the issue on the parliamentary agenda in 2018.

Second, we drew attention to the policies of the Dutch pension fund for people working in the government and education sectors (ABP). The fund aspires to become sustainable and decrease its carbon footprint by 25% by 2020. However, its continued investment in fossil fuel holdings is clearly at odds with this ambition. We found that ABP’s investments in publicly listed coal, oil and gas companies had risen with about a quarter in 2016, amounting to 10,4 billion euro. Together with our German partner organisation Urgewald and Fossielvrij NL we published these findings, which instantly received a lot of media attention. This increased the pressure on ABP to phase out its investments in fossil fuel industries as soon as possible.

Many of the investments supported by ADSB and ABP are in new infrastructure for the fossil fuel industry. It will take decades before the costs of such investments are recovered and this slows down the much-needed transition to renewable energy. Both ENDS will keep flagging the untenable inconsistencies between the Dutch government’s financial support for the fossil sector and its stated commitment to the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, we will continue to support those who feel the effects of these contradictions: communities in the Global South whose habitat and livelihoods are threatened by the ongoing investments in fossil fuel industries.