Abrdn targeted by climate activists on coal, oil, gas

Climate activists gathered outside the Edinburgh headquarters of investment giant Abrdn on Thursday to demand that the asset manager “immediately deny debt to companies expanding fossil fuel projects.”

The campaigners called on Abrdn to “divest existing bond holdings, including in passive funds, from fossil fuel companies that do not have adequate phase out plans in line with 1.5C.”

The activists said Abrdn holds over $3.5 billion in bonds of companies expanding coal ($994 million), oil
and gas ($2.6 billion) with over 50% of its coal bonds due to mature after 2030.

Abrdn has assets under management and administration of almost £500 billion ($600 billion).

The campaigners rebranded the investment giant as “Abrdoomed” to “expose the firm’s continued financing of coal expansion and call on the asset manager to deny debt to coal companies.”

An Abrdn spokesperson said: “As a responsible investor managing assets on behalf of many clients with different mandates and investment objectives, we believe it is important for asset managers to assess whether it is appropriate to impose targets and restrictions where they have not been mandated by the client.

“However, we do offer a variety of funds and investments for clients who wish to invest in line with specific sustainable criteria.

“We currently manage £37bn in sustainable assets.

“As signatories to the NZAM initiative, we are committed to driving the change required to reach net zero targets.

“This means decarbonising portfolios where we have the data and discretion to do so; actively engaging with the highest financed emitters; actively developing net zero solutions and engaging with clients to ensure they understand the work we are doing.

“To this end, we have launched a multi-year engagement strategy with our largest financed emitters.

“We will work with companies to encourage best practice and measure their transition to net zero.

“In cases where we do not see appropriate progress, we may use tools such as our voting powers to drive change.

“Where clients mandate, we can mitigate our exposure to coal and fossil fuels.”

Oli Goulden of the Toxic Bonds Network said: “Abrdn must immediately deny debt to coal or it’s abrdoomed.

“If Abrdn persists in its investments in coal expansion, it’s not just doubling down on its bad financial situation; it’s actively steering its course towards disaster.

“This raises serious concerns about whether the company is truly looking out for the best interests of its shareholders and clients.

“It’s not fooling anyone with its ‘image over substance’ approach to sustainability, we see behind the smoke and mirrors of its positive PR spin.

“The company needs to give their coal bonds the vowel treatment, and ditch them.”