Aegon strikes coal mining off investment list

Aegon has taken the decision to strike coal mining off its investment list, and is further stoking sustainability efforts as part of its strategic objectives.

Coal fired power station cooling towers

Speaking at Aegon's AGM in The Hague last week, CEO Alex Wynaendts said no new investments will be made in companies that derive 30% or more of their revenue from the sale of thermal coal – the type of coal used for power and heat generation.

He said the company would divest publicly-listed equity and bond holdings in coal mining companies from its general account assets.

Currently, Aegon's exposure to companies with more than 30% revenue stake in coal is relatively small. However, applying a coal exclusion decreases Aegon's exposure to potentially stranded assets, addresses concerns by the American and Dutch regulators, and fits with its position as a responsible, sustainable business.

Pledge in action

Coal is widely regarded to be the 'dirtiest' fossil fuel resource, emitting twice as much carbon dioxide as natural gas when burned. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, fossilized carbon is responsible for more than a quarter of the US total global warming emissions, including 80 percent of all those from power plants.

Aegon's announcement follows the company's backing of the Paris Pledge for Action last year, Alex Wynaendts said that having a sustainable strategy and acting sustainably "is an important element" in the company's strategic objectives, which include investing sustainably and attracting and retaining the best employees.

Alex Wynaendts: "We strongly believe that our company should have a positive impact on all our stakeholders. Not just customers, employees and shareholders, but broader society too."

Effective immediately, Aegon will divest from public companies that attribute 30% or more of their revenue to thermal coal mining activities. Such companies will be placed on Aegon's investment exclusions list. Existing private investments will be held until maturity.

Responsible Business

Later this year, Aegon will carry out an in-depth review of its investment risk and opportunities associated with climate change.

Marc van Weede, Head of Strategy and Sustainability at Aegon says the announcement to divest in coal-related investment fits with Aegon's sustainability policies. "We commit to cleaner air, less CO2 emissions and a safe environment for future generations. By excluding coal mines as an investment option we put even more emphasis on the switch to sustainable forms of energy."