Environment

Environment

While anyone can make a difference in how we humans approach the climate and the environment, the world’s major corporations are the ones with the greatest impact. What requirements do we set when it comes to the environmental policy of the companies in which we invest? Or for the way they process waste? How do we promote a climate-driven and circular mindset? Read this section for answers to these questions.

Theme
Sustainability
Collection Contents
15 Publications

International recognition for APG’s climate reporting

Published on: 5 October 2020

APG Asset Management in Leaders Group of Principles for Responsible Investment

 

Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has recognized APG Asset Management as one of the leaders in responsible investing. Including APG AM in its 2020 Leaders’ Group, PRI specifically acknowledges APG’s excellent disclosure and advanced efforts in climate reporting.

 

APG has been reporting on climate risks and opportunities for years, in line with the recommendations of the Task force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). “For our clients, we work to achieve targets such as carbon reduction and investments in SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy,” says Joost Slabbekoorn, Responsible Investment Specialist at APG AM.  “Being included in the PRI 2020 Leaders’ Group is an important acknowledgement of our work.”

 

Climate reporting

Launched in 2006, PRI is a global association of over 3,000 asset owners, asset managers and companies that seek to promote responsible investing. Every year, PRI identifies a group of leaders (not ranked) in a specific area of responsible investing. This year’s theme is climate reporting. The 2020 Leaders Group consists of 36 asset owners and investment managers.  

 

PRI chose the climate reporting theme as many of its signatories consider climate change to be one of the most material ESG risks. “As climate-related risks and opportunities are set to grow in the coming years, it is increasingly important for investors to incorporate them into their view of the future,” says Slabbekoorn. To assess signatories’ climate work, PRI examined, among other things, whether they have a board-approved implementation plan to manage material climate risks and opportunities, how they use scenario analysis and whether they are working towards specific climate-related targets.

 

Inspiring peers to raise the bar

With the selection of the Leaders Group, PRI aims to inspire other signatories to follow the leaders’ best practices. “I congratulate APG Asset Management for qualifying for the 2020 Leaders’ Group, and recognize your excellent disclosure and advanced efforts in climate reporting,” says Fiona Reynolds, PRI’s CEO. “I hope this recognition can help APG Asset Management and our entire signatory base to keep raising the bar in responsible investment.”

 

Read more in the PRI 2020 Leaders’ Group report.

More information on APG’s climate work can be found in our Verslag Verantwoord Beleggen​​​.

Volgende publicatie:
APG sets the bar high with WELL for well-being and health in offices

APG sets the bar high with WELL for well-being and health in offices

Published on: 29 June 2020

APG increases its ambition significantly, not only in terms of sustainability but also in the field of healthy office buildings for APG employees: both at the new premises in Amsterdam and in Heerlen.

 

The person entering the new premises of APG “Edge West” at the Basisweg 10 will immediately notice it: stairs. Not tucked away somewhere in a draughty staircase like in many offices, but in plain sight which implicitly says: “We are going to skip the elevator for today”. The daylight shining through the glass roof provides a bright-green color to the large trees and living walls. Water taps are to be found within a range of thirty meters on the APG office floors. Standing tables are placed here and there, tempting you to get out of your office chair once in a while.

 

Health and well-being at the office continue to be important themes for APG. Even now the workplace at home has proven its worth as an alternative due to corona. Marga Petridean, Facility Service contract manager housing at APG: “What we have learned from the corona crisis, is that working from home may be a good alternative, but also that the office continues to be an important place to come together and to get inspired. One thing we know for certain at APG: once the employees return to the office, health and well-being are paramount. A healthy and pleasant working environment contributes to the well-being of our colleagues and ensures for people to be happy to work at APG.”

 

The themes are taken very seriously by APG, according to Marga. A number of years ago, a certificate for well-being and health was introduced: the WELL Building Standard. Marga: “The design of our renewed office in Amsterdam makes us aim for the so-called WELL Gold certificate for the interior, in addition to the WELL Platinum certificate for the building shell which will be awarded to Edge West as one of the few offices in the Netherlands.”

 

Certificate


APG has asked CBRE Development Services to have the new office Edge Amsterdam West meet the requirements of the certificate. The building already has a high ambition with sustainability certification BREEAM Outstanding. So, what is the reason for yet another certificate? Zaida Thepass, Sustainability Consultant at CBRE: “In order to achieve the WELL certificate, measurements are actually taken within the building itself to assess whether you fulfil the requirements set for air quality, acoustics and lighting, for example. It is the first certification aimed specifically at the health and well-being of the users of a building. That is what distinguishes this certificate from many other quality labels. This standard was established after seven years of research and developed in cooperation with physicians, scientists and real estate professionals.”

 

It is much more than just a piece of paper, Marga emphasizes. “By meeting the criteria of WELL, we contribute to a higher level of well-being, better performances and a lower level of sick leave. The corona crisis has made us focus even more on air quality. So, we are very pleased that this is already incorporated in the WELL certification.”

 

We will also apply WELL to the building in Heerlen, Marga underlines. “As the building in Heerlen involves an existing construction, we have to conduct further research to what extent we are able to give shape and substance to the APG ambition with regard to WELL. That does not always have to be complicated. We already took a few well-being measures in Heerlen by, for example, removing the coffee machines from the workplace. That is a way of stimulating employees to walk more and to make quite a few steps in a day in a simple and unnoticed manner.”

Volgende publicatie:
"Sustainability opportunity to emerge from crisis more quickly"

"Sustainability opportunity to emerge from crisis more quickly"

Published on: 19 June 2020

The current corona crisis should not be a reason for companies and governments to weaken or abandon their sustainability ambitions. In fact, sustainability is a powerful tool to get out of that crisis.

 

This is stated in the so-called Green Recovery Statement that MVO Nederland has published today. Several large companies, including APG, support the statement.

 

There are large, green and social investment plans at both national and European level that also offer opportunities for economic recovery. The Green Deal presented last year is an example of this. Millions of green jobs can be created by investing in sustainability on a large scale. Both public and private investments are needed to get that job driver going, the statement says.

The Covid-19 period has also brought the realization that choices have to be made that are good for the economy and sensible for the climate and humanity.”

Ambitions


The crisis should also not be used for the Dutch economy, for example to weaken the ambitions of the climate agreement, the collective states in the statement. By investing in sustainable innovations now, we can build a competitive advantage in the Netherlands and thus also a solid revenue model for our economy.

 

The objectives formulated in the statement have many interfaces with APG's sustainability policy, which was presented in May. APG believes that pensions are about living, living and living together. Taking care of pensions for 5 million households is in itself already a very sustainable core activity. We live together in a world that we deal with responsibly. One of the four pillars of that ambition is to contribute to the sustainable development of ‘Corporate Netherlands’. Another ambition is to be an international leader in the field of sustainable investment. With this leading position, APG can also make an important contribution to combating the current crisis. For example, APG invests heavily on behalf of pension fund clients in Covid-19 bonds. The proceeds from such bonds are used, among other things, to fund emergency health measures and to support small and medium-sized enterprises in affected countries.

 

Critical

 

Critically looking at yourself is also part of that new sustainability policy. Practice what you preach. APG therefore takes a step forward in its own business operations. Earlier this year, APG joined the Anders Reizen coalition, a coalition of more than fifty large organizations in the Netherlands that wants to halve the CO2 emissions from business travel by 2030. APG has expressed its promise to look critically at its own travel policy.

 

In addition, the collective says in the statement that it sees the EU emissions trading system (ETS) as an important means of achieving its climate ambitions. That position is also fully in line with that of APG. The pension provider recently made a plea for the CO2 pricing together with the ABP pension fund.

In short, sustainability is woven into who we are as APG and what we do, emphasizes CEO Gerard van Olphen. “Supporting this initiative underlines APG's vision. The Covid-19 period has brought dark times, but also the realization that choices have to be made that create new opportunities. Choices that are good for the economy and sensible for the climate and humanity.”

Volgende publicatie:
APG calls on government: do not ignore large polluters

APG calls on government: do not ignore large polluters

Published on: 8 June 2020

Eyes on Climate Agreement while stimulate economy during corona

Together with pension fund and customer ABP, APG calls on the government to switch to pricing CO2 as soon as possible. This accelerates the required green investments and stimulates the economy. Geraldine Leegwater, member of the ABP board, and Ronald Wuijster, member of the APG board of directors, explain today on the FD's opinion page why they are sounding the alarm.

 

It has been agreed in the climate agreement that the Netherlands will unilaterally introduce a broader and rising CO2 tax if necessary. However, the explanatory memorandum to the draft bill showed last week that because of the corona crisis, the Cabinet wants to go a little slower for large companies that face a lot of foreign competition.

 

ABP and APG endorse and support the Paris climate ambitions. According to them, the unexpected crisis requires strong intervention in the Netherlands and in Europe to get the economy going again. This must be done in a way that contributes to the climate and energy transition. Leaving large polluters out of the picture does not fit in with that.

 

A login is required to read the Dutch article Institutional investors insist on rapid introduction of CO2 pricing online.

Volgende publicatie:
APG in media campaign Anders Reizen (Traveling Different)

APG in media campaign Anders Reizen (Traveling Different)

Published on: 2 June 2020

Earlier this year, APG joined the coalition Anders Reizen, a coalition of over fifty big organizations in the Netherlands that want to cut the CO2 emissions of business travel in half by 2030. This ambition and fine-tuning our own ambition with respect to sustainability led us to take a critical look at our current mobility policy in 2020. That’s what APG was doing when the corona crisis broke out and the majority of APG employees started to work from home and stopped traveling altogether.

 

This will not slow down the development of the new mobility plan, however, but instead, provides new insights that will be incorporated into the plan. Not just for the immediate future, but certainly also in the long run.

 

Currently there is still a lot of working from home at APG. This is not going to change until September, following the RIVM guidelines. At some point, a period will probably follow where increasingly more employees will start traveling to work again. As a participant of Anders Reizen, APG feels responsible for showing the right example. And that means that APG intends for their employees to travel to work in a healthy, safe and sustainable way, when traveling is permitted again. Limiting and spreading out mobility is the top priority in this.

 

This is exactly what the members of the coalition have agreed on. This approach will prevent crowding on the road, in public transport and at the office. The participating employees will focus on using their bicycles as a healthy and sustainable alternative. They also agreed to keep air travel to a minimum. It is expected that will be on-going until at least the end of this year.

 

The majority of the employees involved will be adjusting their mobility policy in response to the corona measures and are looking for a healthy balance between working remotely and meeting at the office. People are asking each other questions like “What will our new way of working and traveling look like?”, “How do we prevent going back to old patterns?” and “Is part of the solution to keep working from home, either completely or partially?” In this way, companies are helping each other to evaluate new experiences with work and travel flexibility and to permanently incorporate them into the new, sustainable normal.

 

Today, Anders Reizen is launching a media campaign to keep business travel to a minimum, even after the period of intensively working from home is over. To that end, there is an article in the Financieel Dagblad today, in which the Coalition Anders Reizen makes a statement about traveling in compliance with the corona measures. 

Volgende publicatie:
APG aims to improve ‘carbon sink’ function of natural ecosystems

APG aims to improve ‘carbon sink’ function of natural ecosystems

Published on: 30 March 2020

A growing number of airlines, energy providers and other carbon-intensive companies pledge to reduce CO2 emissions to net-zero by 2050 or earlier. But how does that work? In addition to decarbonizing their businesses, companies increasingly invest in enhancing the ‘carbon sink’ function of natural ecosystems. While not new, the larger scale and professionalism of such Nature-based solutions (NbS) potentially makes them more attractive for investors like APG, says Jos Lemmens.

 

Nestlé, ThyssenKrupp, Volkswagen, Repsol and BP: these are just some examples of the many companies that have recently announced their ambition to reduce their net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 at the latest. Although details vary, these companies’ approaches have one thing in common; they rely partly on increasing ‘negative emissions’ by boosting the ability of natural ecosystems to sequester greenhouse gasses (GHGs).

 

Nature-based solutions (NbS) – as these initiatives are called – have been around for some time, says Jos Lemmens, Senior Portfolio Manager of the Natural Resources Fund at APG Asset Management, co-managing a portfolio of productive timberland and farmland assets. “Often these have been associated with carbon credits markets, but there are other ways in which contributions to sequester GHSs can be made. For instance by integrating nature-based solutions in the acquisition and maintenance of farmland and productive timberland. We know that natural ecosystems are excellent carbon sinks. They have the potential to sequester 30% of global CO2 emissions. In order to fully realize that potential, natural ecosystems need to be preserved, improved and expanded.”

 

APG, on behalf of its pension fund clients, invests in forests and agricultural land. When properly managed, these assets can sequester more carbon in the trees and soil, increasing the intrinsic value of the natural resource. In this way, the interests of stakeholders – investors, operators and local communities - can be aligned.

 

Tipping point

Prior to the corona crisis, Jos addressed a high-level conference co-organized by APG, where researchers, investors, companies and policymakers explored ways to make nature-based solutions (NbS) scalable and investable. “The market seems be at a tipping point”, says Jos. “Initiatives are still small-scale. But with large companies entering this market, existing developers can benefit from the financing, marketing and risk management capabilities that these new players bring along.”

 

One of the takeaways of the conference was that tackling climate change requires betting on many horses. Duncan van Bergen, VP Nature-based Solutions at Shell, for instance, explained that Shell is not only taking steps to reduce the carbon intensity of its products, but is now also investing $ 300 million a year in NbS. Many companies have announced plans to plant trees or (re)develop wetlands, in addition to their carbon reduction schemes. It is now generally accepted that keeping the rise of global temperatures well below 2 degrees requires large ‘negative emissions’.

 

Building an investment case

Scaling up NbS projects in terms of size and professionalism potentially makes them attractive for large investors like APG, says Jos. “It is not a matter of simply planting some trees but of using NbS to build up a sound investment case. In the long run, profitability can only be sustained if the land - our investment’s capital base - is well managed and shielded against degeneration. Investments in natural resources need to be sustainable to be commercially viable in the long term, and vice versa.”

The conference demonstrated the need for all involved – including companies, offerors of NbS, and investors – to pool their strengths to further develop this market. “When it comes to investing in natural resources, sustainability is not peripheral but the core of what we are doing. As a large investor, we have the opportunity to have an impact, even if only a little, with each of the many euros that we invest.”

Volgende publicatie:
APG aims to halve its own mobility carbon footprint

APG aims to halve its own mobility carbon footprint

Published on: 21 February 2020

APG recently signed up with Anders Reizen. This is a coalition of some 50 organizations with the common ambition of halving carbon emissions from business travel by 2030 (compared to 2016). By joining this coalition, APG plans to make use of the experience of other companies to halve the emissions of its own business travel per employee by 2030.

Business travel refers to commuting and other travel used by the employer, including air travel.

 

More sustainable travel


Gerard van Olphen, CEO of APG, is clear about the organization's potential for sustainable mobility: "As a large, sustainable and responsible investor we must of course do the same as what we expect of other companies. We're simply not sustainable enough yet. That's why we'll be adjusting our mobility policy this year. Translated into practice this means reducing car use by encouraging the use of public transport and taking a critical look at our parking policy, for example. We plan to make the lease car fleet more sustainable, and to reduce the amount of air travel. This might mean that some employees have to change how they commute."

 

APG employs a total of around 3,000 people, many of whom work in Heerlen and Amsterdam, and some in New York and Hong Kong. There is room to make mobility more sustainable there, too. Van Olphen: “We want to avoid unnecessary travel as much as possible, both at home and abroad. Merging our Amsterdam locations into one modern, energy-neutral building near Sloterdijk station is in itself a step in the right direction - for the environment, but it also in the considerable saving in accommodation expenses."

 

Liveable world

 

Signing the 'Dutch Business Sustainable Mobility Pledge' forms the starting point for APG also to fulfil its social responsibility through its own mobility policy. Van Olphen: “For APG, pension means more than money alone. We take responsibility for securing a good income for our parents and our children. Now, and in the near and distant future. And we want them to enjoy that income in a pleasant, liveable world."

Volgende publicatie:
Tailings database key step towards safer mining dams

Tailings database key step towards safer mining dams

Published on: 29 January 2020

APG among participants of Global Mining and Tailings Safety Init

 

What is needed to make tailings dams at mining sites safer? On the anniversary of the Brumadinho disaster - last weekend a year ago - an investor initiative launched a tailings dams database as part of an ambitious program to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The database contains information on a total of 1,939 dams. The total current volume of tailings stored in disclosed facilities is 45.7 billion cubic meters, which is equivalent to the volume of over 11,400 Wembley Stadiums. Figures for the number of tailings dams globally are unknown, with estimates varying between 4,000 and 18,000. Only a small proportion of these are currently in use.

 

Investor coalition

In recent years, there have been a number of tragic incidents with mine waste storage facilities – known as tailings dams. In January 2019, a tailings dams near the Brazilian town of Brumadinho gave way, causing the death of 270 people. ‘Brumadinho’ led to the formation of a coalition of investors headed up by the Church of England. APG, on behalf of its pension fund clients, participates in this Global Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative.

 

Good start

“The number of tailings dams included in the database is admittedly still quite small”, says Ileana van Hagen, Senior Portfolio Manager Credits at APG Asset Management, who represents APG and its clients at the Initiative . “However, it is a good start and establishes what we as an investor expect from mining companies.” One encouraging fact is that 40 of the 50 largest mining concerns have already provided data to feed the database. Ileana: “The challenge now is to get the smaller mining companies on board as well.”

 

Satellite monitoring

The database allows users to see information about the tailings facilities owned by a company, including previously identified stability issues and potential severity of consequences in the event of a failure. Future updates to the database are expected to include integration of satellite data and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify further tailings dams and monitor ‘leaching’ of tailings materials – an indicator of possible instability.

 

Alert system

In addition to the database, the Initiative announced its intention to arrive at a ‘24/7 tailings alert system’. Such a system would be similar to those in the shipping and aviation industries and alert local authorities and companies in the case of safety concerns. A further call was made to companies to urgently identify the most dangerous dams so that these can be removed.

 

Global standard

The Initiative has been instrumental in bringing together mining companies, industry experts and investors. “It is encouraging that in the 10 months since its inception, the Initiative has already yielded tangible results, including the creation of a global standard for tailings dams safety and management, which will be launched in April. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that dams are safe, so that tragic events like ‘Brumadinho’ will not repeat.”   

Volgende publicatie:
APG contributes to low carbon European train transport

APG contributes to low carbon European train transport

Published on: 20 December 2019

APG, on behalf of its pension fund clients, has acquired an indirect 41.1% interest in Alpha Trains, the leading passenger train and locomotive leasing company in Continental Europe. Alpha Trains provides rolling stock to train and locomotive operators under leases, which provides train operators with the flexibility to respond dynamically and commercially to opportunities presented in the rail transport market, independent of long-term investment considerations. The majority of the fleet is electric, making a significant contribution to the decarbonisation of Europe’s transport sector.

 

Peter Branner, CIO of APG, about this investement: “As a long-term responsible pension investor, we are continuously looking for attractive investments that help us realise stable returns for ABP and the other pension fund clients we work for, while at the same time contributing to a sustainable world. The investment in Alpha Trains Group perfectly fits our investment strategy: Alpha Trains’ fleet of mostly electric trains and locomotives promotes sustainable, low carbon mass transport within Europe while also offering access to a long-term business model with strong growth and resilient cash flows.”

 

About Alpha Trains

The Alpha Trains portfolio consists of more than 800 passenger trains and locomotives on lease across Continental Europe (including Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Benelux) where it is the market leader amongst the privately-owned rolling stock lessors.
Alpha Trains participates in the annual GRESB survey – a leading Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) benchmark for infrastructure investments across the world – and has been ranked first among their peers in the global diversified infrastructure funds and rolling stock asset class categories, respectively.

 

See press release

Volgende publicatie:
‘This doesn’t have to be a paper tiger’

‘This doesn’t have to be a paper tiger’

Published on: 10 July 2019

Today, APG chairman of the board Gerard van Olphen has sign an agreement in The Hague under which the Dutch financial sector will commit to the targets of the Climate Agreement and the Paris Agreement.

 

He comes back to this idea several times during the interview: this is a unique commitment. It is the only one of its kind. ‘Pension funds, insurance companies, banks and asset managers are voluntarily committed to this approach and will be transparent in their accountability to society. This commitment on the part of the financial sector will have a truly enormous impact. After all, the sector makes up 80-90% of the money in the Netherlands. The signatories to this agreement today represent €3 trillion. This makes the Dutch financial sector a catalyst for and promoter of the transition that the Netherlands has to undertake. We are shaping the future. Contributing to the achievement. And yes, I am very proud of that.’

Of course, as Van Olphen also knows, industrial companies themselves have to make their factories cleaner. ‘We can't do that for them. They will have to reduce their carbon emissions themselves. But the fact that when we assess industry business cases we are not only evaluating financial feasibility but also compliance with the Paris targets, which means that polluting or less ambitious initiatives in the field of CO2 reduction will have more difficulty in obtaining funding than plans that really contribute to sustainability.’

The uniqueness of the joint declaration has not escaped the notice of neighboring countries either. In Brussels, in London, at the G20: the finance minister, sector representatives or Gerard van Olphen himself will discuss this commitment on various foreign venues in the near future. The international financial community welcomes this typically Dutch “polder manifesto”. Van Olphen: ‘The financial sector in many countries is more inclined to support climate agreements than to help shape them.’

 

What is it that makes this document so special?
‘In the financial sector, you are primarily responsible for other people’s money, so you have to have a solid risk/return profile. You can't tell people that their pensions will be lower because we have to finance the energy transition. But this is a huge commitment, and I would almost say it is catalytic. This is because we intend to determine and report on the CO2 impact of all the relevant investments we make. We will then agree on reductions in line with the Paris targets. In other words, 49% lower C02 emissions by 2030. And we will hold ourselves publicly accountable for this in the framework of a national accountability system. Once a year, as a consequence of the climate agreement, the minister consults Parliament with a view to explaining: are we doing enough in the area of the climate? Will we achieve our targets? This commitment is integral to that.’

You are proud of the commitment involved, but not entirely satisfied. Why is that?
‘When I was invited to be the chairman of the Financing Task Force, the scenario was that we wanted to bring a climate agreement to the Lower House before the parliamentary recess in 2018. The Netherlands intends to make rapid progress on the energy transition. That turned out to be a more difficult process than we thought. Initially, five primary committees were involved. Initially, financing was intended to play a supporting role, in the same way as the labor market. Our vision was that at the level of the primary committees - transport, agriculture, construction, electricity, industry - a great deal was already happening, and they would be coming to the financing committee with very specific investment questions. Such as: ‘we are planning to build a light rail from the Randstad to Schiphol, we need hydrogen power stations or we need large-scale electrification.’

 

But in practice, the situation proved to be problematic. ‘Because nothing happened.’ Sometimes as a result of conflicting interests, but also because there was no clear direction in the climate plans. There were still many options to be considered. The Netherlands is going to use electrification or hydrogen. Will there be any legislation on CO2 pricing? So a great many conditions for a successful business case had not yet been met.’ In retrospect, this was also very logical. The subject matter is comprehensive and complex and also requires broad public support, and I was probably a little naive at the outset as well.’

 

No direction, many different interests.
‘Someone told me what their experience was: ‘When I started I thought it was a football match. But halfway through I think to myself: I'm now standing in front of the goal and something is flying towards me. First it was a football, then it became a baseball somehow, and now that I'm expected to head it, I'm not sure it's not a bowling ball. And before I do that, I'd like to know for sure one way or another.’

 

Is that how you experienced it as well?
‘To put it diplomatically, our first phase was one of finding our way. What also became clear to us, besides the fact that there was a lack of direction, was that the committees were not familiar with the structure of the financial sector. When the issue came up at one of the committees: we need money, our counter-question was: what kind of money? Well, money. But what kind of money? Well, euros. The question from the financial sector is then:  Risk-bearing, non-risk-bearing, short, long, hybrid?  And so we developed a financing guide so that they could better understand supply and demand in the field of financing.  We also worked closely with the majority of the primary committees, sometimes in joint workshops, sometimes through participation in the relevant committee or in some other way.’

 

In February of this year, after a great deal of media fuss about the affordability of the transition, the government issued a broad outline of their assessment of the agreement. This prompted the task group to consider its role in the follow-up. What's next?  ‘We then agreed to focus on two things. The first was the commitment that we are signing today. The second was to help support Invest NL. In the meantime it had been decided to found Invest NL, an investment company belonging to the Dutch State and managed by Wouter Bos.  Invest NL acts as a point of contact and facilitator for parties looking for financing in the context of the energy transition.  It is the investment company that has received 2.5 billion from the state to advance the transition. The idea is this: we are not going to finance the energy transition with this EUR 2.5 billion, but if we invest it in the right place, the private market may be able to invest many times more than that on market terms, and this will make investment capacity available.’

 

And now we the commitment is there. Aren't you afraid that this will be a paper tiger? It seems like a horrible job to me to standardize the measurements.
‘The next chapter is: how do we make sure this happens? This must not become a paper tiger. This really must be something where the financial sector will genuinely be accountable to politics and society for their efforts. So there must also be an independent guarantee, and it will be difficult to say at first: party A reports using one standard, party B reports using another standard, but what matters is: is the underlying trend the right one? And if it's not the case, that party should be able to say: dear financial sector, you need to redouble your efforts.

 

And that independent actor will be there?
‘Yes, it is going to happen.’

 

The problem is that you can't impose sanctions. At best because parties that are lagging behind will have to account for their actions publicly. Or because the sector is exerting pressure.
‘My first instinct is not to resort to naming and shaming. But let's say hypothetically that if a party is known to be clogging up the works, the sector itself will eventually make corrections. The sector has now gained sufficient experience with painful situations where they have been called to account and have themselves been too slow to take action. Whether you look at profiteering policies at insurance companies, interest rate derivatives at banks or how pension funds communicate pension cuts, these social discussions have taught us that this is not how it works.’

 

So how does this affect APG itself?
‘This means that APG, as a company, is also committed to reducing CO2 emissions in line with the Paris targets. This implies decreased travel and reduced gas consumption. Everything that comes into play in society will also affect us as a company. Sustainability is not something that our clients necessarily expect from their investments, but it is what we expect at APG. This means that our annual report will state how much C02 we emit and how we are going to ensure that this will be 49% lower in 2030. What does that mean in terms of accommodations? In terms of how we travel? How are we going to heat our buildings? From 2020 onwards, the theme of sustainability will be high on the agenda of APG itself.’

 

And beyond the company itself - what does this mean for the stakeholders, consumers who read in the newspaper that the energy transition is unaffordable?
‘Of course, the transition will be costly. The idea that some of the news media presented was that in five years, everyone will have to cook electrically, or have solar panels on their roofs. So that's our starting point now, and the question is who is going to pay for it? But what matters is that you adapt to match the natural flow of the consumer. The financial sector will of course be there to support consumers in their decisions. So if you, as a consumer, want a new kitchen, then the lender will say: if you are going to make a choice anyway, then it's better to go for induction. That's different from saying: I've just had a new kitchen installed and now it turns out that I might as well replace my stove in two years’ time. When you are making choices about financing your kitchen, your house, your car, your company, you will find a bank, an asset manager or a pension fund that will say: we will help you finance your needs, but at the same time we will work with you to think about how you can make sustainable choices.’

Volgende publicatie:
“We are in it for the long term”

“We are in it for the long term”

Published on: 24 May 2019

Interview Ronald Wuijster with Management Scope

 

At APG we ensure that millions of Dutch people have a so called ‘income for later’. “We do this by obtaining a good return, that’s our main aim. Leading on from this we also have a second goal: to contribute as investors to a sustainable world.”, says Wuijster. “We consciously invest in leaders in the area of sustainability and in companies with the potential to become leaders in the future. If you just invest in companies that already have fantastic performances in terms of sustainability, you don’t improve the world.”

 

Attractive employer

This way of working makes APG an attractive employer for investors:
“Many employees find satisfaction in contributing to the pensions of millions of people and exerting influence on companies and governments to make them behave in a socially responsible manner. Our employees can work at these goals with substantial assets behind them, they can enter new markets and look for new investment possibilities with good returns worldwide.”

 

More comprehensive investment process

Regularly, people talk on the possible dilemma of returns versus sustainability. Wuijster says: ‘In practice we’re seldom faced with that dilemma, because we look at our investments from an overall point of view. The portfolio managers themselves take various perspectives into account in their considerations, including sustainability factors. If you look only at economic factors or cash flow, you get a good, but one-sided picture of company performance. Portfolio managers were quick to see that a broader perspective actually strengthened the investment decision. So it made our investment process more comprehensive.”

 

Long term

In the interview, Wuijster underlines the long term focus of APG to maximize pension value for pension funds and participants: “We still see too many shareholders and directors with a horizon of just three months. As long-term investors we believe you have to look much further ahead. We also see this too as part of our purpose: to contribute to shifting companies’ and governments’ short-term horizon.”

 

Wuijster concludes: “At APG we don’t invest on impulse. People sometimes think that our trading floor is powered by testosterone. In this I must disappoint them: it’s certainly not the case. We're in it for the long term.”

 

Read the full interview here (in Dutch)

Volgende publicatie:
Gerard van Olphen's response to the Climate agreement

Gerard van Olphen's response to the Climate agreement

Published on: 21 December 2018

Gerard van Olphen, chairman of the Executive Board of APG and chairman of the Task Force for Finance, responds to the Climate Agreement.

 

"The Dutch financial sector is positive about the draft Climate Agreement that is now ahead. In recent months, many parties have worked hard on this and that deserves much appreciation. Now it is time to take the next step to achieve the Paris climate goals together. According to the agreement, the financial sector takes its responsibility when it comes to climate change. We will invest billions more in sustainable growth and will measurably and significantly reduce the CO2 emissions from our loans and investments. So that our customers can also enjoy a financially healthy and sustainable world in the future. Promising steps have been taken with the climate agreement today. At the same time, more elaboration and realization is needed. The financial sector would like to discuss this further with all parties involved in the coming months.”

 

The full text of the Climate Agreement can be found on klimaatakkoord.nl (in Dutch only).

Volgende publicatie:
Amsterdam locations APG will go to one sustainable building

Amsterdam locations APG will go to one sustainable building

Published on: 27 September 2018

APG will leave the location Symphony Tower on the Zuidas in 2021 and will concentrate all its Amsterdam activities in the building Basisweg 10, near Sloterdijk station.

 

The property will be converted as from January 2019 by owner Edge Technologies into a sustainable and contemporary building. The renovation creates a modern working environment that facilitates employees better than the current working environment and invites them to work together on the main goal of APG, creating maximum pension value. Around 500 employees will move from location Symphony to Basisweg, where about 1000 employees of APG will work.

 

One of the most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands
Owner Edge Technologies realizes the building with a "BREEAM" sustainability certificate with the level excellent or higher so that the building will become one of the most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands, in accordance with APG's role as a responsible investor. In terms of appearance, the building will suit APG as a leading pension provider and global investor.
 

High-quality work environment
The renovation creates a modern working environment that facilitates employees better than the current working environment and invites them to work together. The working environment will be of a higher quality: different working methods (e.g. concentrated work, collaboration, agile work) will be facilitated in a flexible work concept.

Cost
Due to a lower price per sqm, a lower requirement for sqm and a lower energy consumption, APG saves an amount of € 87 million in accommodation costs over the term of the lease (17 years), which contributes to the APG goal of reducing the costs per participant.

Volgende publicatie:
Financial institutions develop methodology to measure their carbon impact

Financial institutions develop methodology to measure their carbon impact

Published on: 12 December 2017

Twelve Dutch banks, insurance companies, asset managers and pension providers (including APG) have developed a methodology for measuring the carbon footprint of their investments and loans.

 

This will enable them to set their own targets for helping to keep global warming within safe limits. The final report, including the methodology – the product of two years’ work – was published on 12 December 2017.

 

Claudia Kruse, Managing Director Global Responsible Investment & Governance at APG Asset Management says: ‘This result shows how important cooperation is within the sector. In this report we agreed upon definitions with which we can measure more accurate and compare the carbon footprint in our portfolios better. Today in Paris, we are also starting a global collaboration with investors for engagement with the global top 100 of largest CO2 emitters. We Together, we will discuss the governance and reporting of climate risks and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Only through cooperation will we achieve the scale needed to tackle climate change.’’

 

Influencing the carbon footprint

Financial institutions can influence the carbon footprint of business undertakings. They do this by taking account of the business’s carbon footprint when they make investment decisions. And by entering into a dialogue on the carbon footprint of business undertakings in which they invest or which they finance.  

 

That information forms the basis of the Platform Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF). This is one of the first initiatives in which financial institutions have worked together to reduce carbon emissions. The PCAF’s members consist of banks ABN AMRO, ASN Bank, Triodos Bank and De Volksbank, pension funds PMT and PME, asset managers ACTIAM, Achmea Investment Management, APG, MN and PGGM, and development bank FMO. At the Paris Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015, they signed the Dutch Carbon Pledge, promising to join forces in the interests of the climate. Insurance company Achmea Investment Management joined the PCAF in 2017.

 

Common, transparent methodology

The PCAF members’ plan was to develop within two years a common, transparent methodology that would enable financial institutions to set targets for carbon emissions and to measure the extent to which these targets were achieved. The recently published report describes such methodologies for listed equities, project finance, government bonds, mortgages, corporate finance and real estate. The report is in the public domain. The PCAF members hope this will encourage other financial institutions to adopt these methodologies.

 

Unique collaboration between financials

Piet Sprengers of ASN Bank, Chair of PCAF says: ‘We have worked hard for two years and have achieved a great result thanks to the unique collaboration between twelve financials. It is now time to build on this result and really get to grips with the methodology. We are therefore going to proceed with the PCAF for another two years, so that together we can continue to encourage and inspire other institutions. Ultimately, what is important is that we use our influence as financiers and investors to help keep global warning within safe limits.’

 

Promoting the developed methodology internationally

PCAF’s stance is that a financial institution’s footprint reporting is a means to an end. The ultimate purpose is to allow steering towards a low-carbon portfolio in line with the Paris Agreement. PCAF continues for at least two years. The members also intend to share best practices, address dilemmas and work together on improving the methodologies. They are furthermore going to promote the developed methodology internationally. PCAF is also part of the Dutch Sustainable Finance Platform, chaired by the Dutch Central Bank (DNB).

 

About PCAF

Twelve Dutch financial institutions – the Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF) – are working together to jointly develop transparant open source methodologies to measure the carbon footprint of their investments and loans. By measuring and disclosing this information they expect to develop more effective strategies that help contribute to a low carbon society, in the hope that stakeholders inside and outside the Dutch financial industry will follow suit.

 

About the Sustainable Finance Platform of the DNB

The Sustainable Finance Platform is a cooperative venture of De Nederlandsche Bank (chair), the Dutch Banking Association, the Dutch Association of Insurers, the Federation of the Dutch Pension Funds, the Dutch Fund and Asset Management Association, the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, and the Sustainable Finance Lab. The aim of this platform, set up by DNB in 2016, is to promote and encourage a dialogue on sustainable finance in the financial sector.

Volgende publicatie:
APG wants to double sustainable energy investments

APG wants to double sustainable energy investments

Published on: 22 September 2016

Over the next three years, APG wants to double its investments in sustainable energy production from one to two billion euros.

 

350 institutional investors and financial institutions

In New York, Kemna, who speaks on behalf of a coalition of nearly 350 institutional investors and financial institutions, notes that in 2013 around $250 billion has been invested in clean energy solutions worldwide. To counter the worst effects of climate change this amount should be doubled within a few years.

 

The doubling of investments which APG wants to achieve in the next three years, for example in wind and solar power, fits the focus on sustainability in APG's investment portfolio. In her speech Kemna announces that APG has managed to double its investments in sustainable real estate to €11 billion in the past two years. According to Kemna this is an important step in the right direction because real estate is responsible for 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

 

In order to facilitate sustainable investing for pension funds and institutional investors, it is important that governments ensure clear and stable regulations. This involves measures such as the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, higher prices for CO2 emission rights and increased support for research into cleaner energy.

 

To underline the importance of this, APG, together with other investors, has signed a statement on climate change in which governments are asked to take such measures. The statement is endorsed by 347 investors, including Dutch pension funds ABP, bpfBOUW, SPW, PPF APG and insurance company Loyalis. They announce their ambition to look into investments with low CO2 emissions, to the extent that this fits within their task as a pension provider and insurer. They also will encourage companies in which they invest in to be clear and open about the risks they face from climate change.