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This alarming statistic emerges from an exhaustive probe led by Follow the Money and Investico. The inquiry scrutinized around 1,300 European sustainable funds with a staggering €525 billion in collective investments. Over 40% of these were found backing fossil fuel entities. In the Netherlands, that share is even higher: more than half.

Why you need to know this:

Many companies claim to be sustainable. But sometimes this is not the case. There should be clear regulations on what terms can be used and when.

Major financial players such as ABN AMRO and ASR are implicated, although they affirm compliance with current laws and readiness to align with future rules. Amid this controversy, the Vereniging van Effectenbezitters urges a policy overhaul to genuinely exclude fossil fuels, reflecting the true intentions of ESG-focused investors.

Investing in oil companies

There are at least 346 funds in the Netherlands with terms like sustainable, green and net zero in their name. Follow the Money investigated 216 of these supposedly sustainable funds. So more than half of them invest in fossil companies. That amounts to a total of almost 1.6 billion euros. For example, 10 funds invest in oil company ExxonMobil. Another 10 funds invest in Aker BP: a company looking for new gas and oil fields in the Arctic.

Compliance and contradictions

The fossil investments starkly contrast with the European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) impending guidelines. These guidelines are set to restrict the labeling of investment funds as ‘sustainable’ if they have significant stakes in the fossil fuel sector. The exact timeline for the implementation of these regulations remains uncertain.