Maintenance. We are currently updating the site. Please check back shortly
Members login
  • TrustLaw
  • Members Portal
Subscribe Donate

Deep-pocketed foundations pledge to divest from fossil fuels

Source: Reuters - Fri, 31 Jan 2014 02:00 GMT
Author: Reuters
cli-ene cli-pol cli-fin
Excess natural gas is flared, or burned off, at a flare stack at a refinery in Tula, Mexico, Nov. 21, 2013. REUTERS/Henry Romero
Tweet Recommend Google + LinkedIn Email Print
Leave us a comment

Jan 30 (Reuters) - More than a dozen foundations representing more than $2 billion in assets said Thursday they will stop investing in fossil fuel companies as both the World Bank and United Nations chiefs strengthen calls for divestment from "high carbon" assets.

The Divest-Invest Philanthropy coalition includes foundations, such as the Park Foundation, the John Merck Fund and the Schmidt Family Foundation - co-founded by Google Inc Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt - in the United States, as well as the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust abroad.

Its members said continued investment in fossil fuels presents financial and ethical risks and that it urges other foundations to follow their lead.

"Starting today, we pledge to use all our assets - not just the usual 5 percent yearly payment of grants - to advance our goals, values and beliefs," said Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and the originator of the Divest-Invest initiative.

The foundations said they will follow in the footsteps of a few successful historical divestments, including movements that targeted apartheid South Africa starting in the 1960s.

The announcement comes amid growing calls made at the recent Davos World Economic Forum and by UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urging companies to back away from investing in carbon-intensive fuels.

Meanwhile, student movements in the United States have put pressure on their universities to divest from fossil fuels.

"And we are relying on a growing list of financial analyses that refute the conventional wisdom that divesting from fossil fuel stocks leads to greater risk or lower returns," said Ruth Hennig, executive director of the John Merck Fund.

The International Energy Agency said last year that if governments were really committed to limiting the rise in global temperatures, two-thirds of the currently known oil, coal and gas reserves would have to be left in the ground.

However, the non-profit Carbon Tracker Initiative estimated that the top 200 oil, gas and mining companies have planned $674 billion to finding and developing even more fossil fuel reserves.

The divestment group said that continuing to invest in fossil fuels is a financial risk, as it exposes companies to a "carbon bubble" when cleaner energy sources are a more attractive investment.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus
Most Popular
TOPICAL CONTENT
Topical content
LATEST SLIDESHOW

Latest slideshow

See allSee all
FEATURED JOBS
Featured jobs