Wilbert van der Zeijden
ABP, the largest Dutch Pension Fund, announced it has divested from Indian company Larsen and Toubro because of the company’s involvement in the production of Indian nuclear weapons. Involvement in companies producing nuclear weapons for India does not fit the investment policies of ABP.
Last November, PAX raised awareness about these investments when it launched the 2014 Don’t Bank on the Bomb report about worldwide investments in nuclear weapons producers. The report showed how ABP is the Netherlands’ largest investor in nuclear weapons producers by far, with over US$ 1,100 million invested in numerous nuclear weapons producing companies. This dubious honour drew a lot of media attention in the Netherlands at the time. ABP policy allows investments in nuclear weapons producing companies from all countries except India, Israel, North-Korea and Pakistan.
It is to the credit of ABP that it has taken a critical look at this investment and that it has decided to no longer put the pension savings of its clients in a company that makes weapons of mass destruction for India, which is not a member of important international arms control treaties.
It would be even better if ABP decided to apply the same reasoning to companies producing nuclear weapons for China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, the five countries with over 95% of all nuclear weapons and a treaty obligation to disarm.
A survey of Dutch TV news show EenVandaag in November showed (again) that 2/3rd of ABP clients do not want their pension money invested in any nuclear weapons producers, regardless of the country they produce for. Investing in nuclear weapons producers is clearly controversial among ABP clients. PAX urges ABP to end its controversial involvements in nuclear weapons producers, similar to is decision a couple of years ago to no longer invest in producers of controversial cluster munitions.
In the Netherlands, several major pension funds, such as PNO Media and the Philips Pension Fund have already decided to exclude all companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons from investments. In the Netherlands, participation in a pension plan is obligatory and your pension participation is determined by the sector you work in. There is no possibility to change pension fund. PAX believes this adds an extra responsibility for pension funds to be extra cautious with investments that are clearly controversial.
Summarising: PAX commends ABP for carefully applying its policy. Now let’s talk about improving the policy itself.