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In the United States, companies and investors pursuing sustainability are experiencing increasing headwinds from politicians. Former Vice President Mike Pence and like-minded people are fighting against “green” investments, a trend encouraged in European countries. This difference in approach is creating tensions within the financial community. In some American states, companies are already excluded from government contracts if they prioritize sustainability.

In the investment world, “ESG” is commonly used instead of “sustainability. The abbreviation stands for Environmental, Social, & Governance. This ‘anti-ESG’ movement stands for those opposed to the green transition and raises questions about the future of SRI and what impact it may have on Dutch pension funds.

Why this is important:

Political divisions are growing in the US over sustainable investments. What consequences does this have for investors and companies? And is this trend blowing over to the Netherlands?

Political divisions over climate investment

The political battle in the United States around renewable investments is getting brighter by the day. Republicans see climate change as a polarized issue and strongly oppose investments in renewable energy. Mike Pence, former vice president, decisively articulated this sentiment on social media. His message is clear: investing in sustainability is allowed, but not with our retirees’ money.

This resistance is finding its way into concrete measures. In Republican strongholds, such as Florida, Texas, and West Virginia, companies that invest less in fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, are excluded from government contracts. This affects not only American companies but also Dutch pension funds, whose assets are managed by companies such as Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street.

Europe versus the United States

In contrast to the United States, where SRI is under fire, European companies are being urged to go green faster. This sometimes leads to lawsuits against companies that critics believe are not acting fast enough. This contrast shows the gap between the two continents regarding climate policy and sustainability.

The question arises whether the American tendency to take a critical approach to sustainability will blow over to the Netherlands. Critical voices from politicians and activists are already there, but it still needs to be determined whether this will result in a similar counter-movement. The situation in the U.S. and the reaction of companies and investors to these challenges are essential signals for Dutch stakeholders.

Implications for Dutch Pension Funds

The changes in the U.S. may have implications for Dutch pension funds. These funds rely heavily on asset managers who are now under pressure. The fight in America against sustainability may lead to a revision of investment strategies, which could affect long-term returns.

In addition, recent developments in European legislation have required investors to factor sustainability into their investment policies. This contrast between the two markets may present challenges for Dutch pension funds as they must navigate between strict European requirements and the changing U.S. landscape.

A look to the future

The current developments in the U.S. and the potential spillover effects to the Netherlands call for foresight within the financial sector. While the resistance to SRI in the United States is an “allergic reaction” from politicians, it demonstrates the importance of a clear and consistent dialogue on sustainability in the financial sector. The future of SRI depends in part on how companies and investors address these challenges.