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Danish funds to divest from fossil fuels

05 March 2015

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Danish academics, engineers and lawyers are set to vote on divesting their €32bn (£23bn) pension funds from the fossil fuels that drive climate change.

The first of a series of resolutions will be filed on March 9 asking six funds to dump their coal investments by 2018 and exclude high-risk oil and gas projects.

Campaigners are hopeful of success after resolutions demanding divestment from all fossil fuels were only narrowly defeated in 2014. The pension funds, which Danish professionals are obliged to join, cover almost 5% of the nation's workforce.

"The Danish energy sector is obviously more green than elsewhere in the world, but even in Denmark we have a responsibility to do our absolute best to drive the [green energy] transition and part of that is moving out of black money," said Prof Thomas Meinert Larsen, at Copenhagen University and part of the Danish Fossil Free Campaign.

The Danish move is part of a fast-growing climate change campaign that has already persuaded 180 institutions, worth USD 50bn (GBP 33bn) and including local authorities, universities and churches, to sell off their investments in coal, oil and gas.

The campaigners argue that the trillions of dollars companies are still spending on exploration for even more fossil fuels is a danger to both the climate and investors' capital.

The six funds being targeted provide pensions for academics (MP Pension), engineers (DIP and ISP), lawyers and economists (JØP), architects (AP) and veterinarians (PJD), over 200,000 people in total.

The resolution filed to each fund will ask the board to "exclude investments in the 100 largest coal companies as soon as possible, but at the latest before the end of 2018, and to engage in, and annually document, a dialogue with owned oil and gas companies to exclude their investments in high-risk extraction projects, e.g. tar sands, deepwater drilling and drilling in Arctic."

The votes will take place in April.

Other major financial institutions in Scandinavia have already divested from fossil fuel stocks, with the regions' biggest fund manager Nordea and Norway's sovereign wealth fund (the world's biggest) both blacklisting coal companies, while Denmark's largest pension fund, PFA, is excluding tar sands companies.

First published 05.03.2015