2015 was the hottest year in history. Month by month, the average temperature of the globe breaks successive records and people face the effects of climate change literally in any place on the planet. When in December of the previous year, during the UN Climate Summit in Paris, 195 Member States agreed to establish a new climate treaty, the world held breath in hope.
However, instead of a sigh of relief, the international climate movement is still forced today to scream with indignation and call for people all over the world to take climate protection into their own hands! This is particularly important where policy-makers fail, since the rules are still dictated by the dirty mining business.
Time to break free from fossil fuels
To avoid a disaster we, the governments and citizens, need to stop the progressing climate changes - there is one condition: 80% of the available fossil fuels must remain in the ground! Brown coal - in the first instance and unquestionably!
Meanwhile, it turns out that even if we meet the obligations arising from the Treaty of Paris, we are still threatened by global warming. How can that be possible? Large mining and oil companies, oftentimes backed up by governments, still completely legally destroy the environment and our homes extracting fossil fuels.
That is why in May 2016 people all over the world gather in order to take matters into their own hands: not just to protest, but also to block mining interests wherever they are making a killing on climate and environmental pollution at the expense of the people.
In Australia the largest coal port in the world will be closed, in Brazil they will stand up against the extraction of oil and gas, the United States and Canada will see a wave of actions against the extraction of oil from tar sands and shale gas. Right at the Polish border – in German Lusatia – thousands of people will bring an enormous open-pit brown coal mine to a standstill as part of the action Ende Gelände.
Hera are the calculations of the the global campaign Break Free From Fossil Fuels, the most important event of the year.
We, the opponents of the construction of new brown coal open-pit mines, also join the global protest - this time we will not, however, protest in front of a mine or a power plant...
On 10 May we are meeting in Warsaw in front of the headquarters of Nationale Nederlanden, which covertly, in "velvet gloves" helps extraction companies to destroy the environment and evict people from their homes.
In a web of dirty business
Nationale Nederlanden (hereinafter called NN) is the owner and administrator of the largest Polish pension fund - NN OFE (until recently, ING OFE).
Pątnów-Adamów-Konin Power Plant Group (abbreviated as ZE PAK) and Polish Energy Group (PGE - Polska Grupa Energetyczna) share the lignite extraction and combustion market in Poland. Currently PAK and PGE plan to build 6 new open-pit mines, which would eventually replace the 8 open pits currently operating in Poland. What links these three companies?
NN is one of the largest shareholders of ZE PAK - it has no less than 9.97% of shares in the company!
It is also a significant shareholder of PGE. The NN interests in the shares of the mentioned energy companies are sufficient in order to exert influence on their investment decisions and directions of their further development.
This is of course on the condition that NN decides that it is beneficial for its interests and image.
Under the pressure of public opinion, the company may even decide on the sale of its shares in ZE PAK and PGE. This could pose a serious destabilization of share price of these companies, and consequently, a fall in their valuation and creditworthiness.
In the current financial situation, ZE PAK cannot afford to lose sch a serious shareholder. A sales of nearly 10% of shares would completely break down the already poor share price of the company on the stock exchange and would most likely lead to its bankruptcy!
On the other hand, for Nationale Nederlanden the 9.97% of shares in ZE PAK amounts merely to 0.13% of all the assets of the NN OFE open pension fund. The loss of image for the Fund is by far a greater risk than the opinion of ZE PAK. In comparison to the international giant, ZE PAK is a dwarf.
What will prevail: the growing public pressure, our protest or lignite, which, according to experts and scientists, is a fuel without future?
Financial institutions such as NN are currently in the spotlight of the global movement for climate protection and sustainable development. The protest of the international community, which requires the company to move away from funding the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, may certainly be harmful to Nationale Nederlanden.
This, in turn, will hit the underbelly of the company's position on the stock market and its perception by the customers and people entrusting their personal properties with NN for management as part of e.g. Open Pension Funds (OFE)
Risky business, that is business in retreat
In December 2015 the ING Bank - until recently the owner of Nationale Nederlanden - decided to stop granting new loans for coal projects both to mines and power plants.Thus, ING joined the ranks of global financial institutions that had already decided not to support further mining and burning of coal.
The list of institutions that have taken the decision to sell their shares in entities that profit from the operations affecting climate change, is a long one. Just as long is the list of banks that have ceased providing loans for this purpose. The group includes the world's largest banks: American, French or British, the European Investment Bank and the EBRD.
Fossil fuels are also being abandoned by the largest pension funds in the world and insurance agencies - the German Allianz or the French AXA. All these are selling shares in companies whose earnings and activities are based on the extraction and combustion of coal.
Over 500 institutions have already decided to get rid of coal assets. They manage an exorbitant volume of assets, amounting to over 3.4 billions of dollars - these are the money the dirty business will no longer get!
A massive retreat from fossil fuels also occurs due to the public opinion pressure, which does not agree that their unethical businesses be continued.
Banks, insurance companies rarely undertake charitable activities, they are well aware of the fact that investing in fossil fuels, particularly in coal, is becoming more and more risky and this is not not only about bad publicity.
Climate solidarity, human solidarity
In Wielkopolska - near Konin, in the Rawicz and Gostyń regions in the Lower Silesia, in Lusatia in Lubuskie and Łódź Provinces, where a new open pit of the Bełchatów power plant is planned - people are are engaged in a dramatic struggle for their homes, a good future for themselves and their children. And they are not alone in their fight. Although there is a distance of thousands of miles between them, the Poles threatened by open pits will be assisted by people coming together these days in the common struggle against the destructive business of mining companies - Break Free From Fossil Fuels.
We would like to invite the members and supporters of the Coalition "Developments Yes - Open-Pit Mines NO" to participate in the protest on May 10 in Warsaw!
Together we will show the greatest pension fund in Poland that we know about its links with the dirty business of fossil fuels.
Let us not allow the co-responsibility of Nationale Nederlanden for the destruction caused by the companies, in which it is a shareholder, remain a mystery. We care about the fate of thousands of people who have lived for many years in the shadow of the existing and planned open pits.
Inertia allows for destruction and injustice. Whether the world will become a better place depends on us.
Nationale Nederlanden 10% destruction - it is your fault!
The pension fund should not only take care about the future of the money, but also of their owners. By making investments in lignite, one of the dirtiest, most harmful fossil fuels, NN OFE not only risks our money, but also funds the greatest threat to our future - climate change. NN as a major shareholder, that is a de facto co-owner of ZE PAK, should accept complete responsibility for 1/10 of the destruction and damage in the environment caused by the mines of the company.
The construction of new open pits is a cone of depression, the drying up of lakes, rivers, agricultural land. A severe reduction in yields and the collapse of local agriculture with these dubious "investments" is granted. We are hoping that NN will be interested in the ZE PAK and PGE's planned eradication of forests and precious croplands stretching over an area of approximately 767 football fields and the dislocation of thousands of people from the areas of the planned open pit Ościsłowo and Dęby Szlacheckie? Perhaps they will be moved by the fate of 22 villages that are going to disappear under the Oczkowice open pit in the southern Wielkpolska ? If the Gubin-Brody open pit construction starts, for which PGE is responsible, 3000 hectares of forests will be cut down, and 15 Polish villages will be obliterated. Not only protected species, such as the white-tailed eagle, will lose their habitats, but also thousands of people will be left without a place to live. In place of former schools, farmlands and valuable natural habitats, the largest hole in the ground in Europe will emerge. Tough choice? We have a better proposal for NN OFE.
Nationale Nederlanden - Notoriously Irresponsible or Tremendously Up-To-Date?
On 10 May the Polish non-governmental organizations and local communities threatened by the excavations will have a meeting in Warsaw in front of the headquarters of NN in order to remind the managers of the company that Poles do not agree on further investments in the coal sector. It is unacceptable that a major pension fund tries covertly, without the knowledge of the general public to gain profits for their clients at the expense of the development of entire communes and the future of their inhabitants.
We demand that NN takes an active position in relation to the companies that are planning new excavations and as a shareholder of ZE PAK to officially demand from the company to abandon the socially and environmentally damaging investments! We will send a clear message: if open pits come into being, we will continue to protest and exert pressure on Nationale Nederlanden. The Fund will be fully responsible for a part of the damage - the massive relocation of people, houses demolished for the excavations, irretrievably lost farms, good quality soil, protected areas and forests. It is high time that we make it clear that there is no permission for such investments.
The technological progress rushes forward, an energy revolution is taking place. If NN OFE wants to invest in energy, let it be clean energy derived from renewable sources. The stone age has not ended because they actually ran out of stones! Today is not only the end of the era of coal but also of our patience.
Do not destroy nature using our money!
Join the action for the environment, people and climate. We are meeting on May 10, at 11.00 AM in Warsaw at ul. Topiel 12.
Information and contact:
Project coordinator and financial campaigner
Development Yes – Open Pit Mines No Foundation