WASHINGTON Jan 30 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
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
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
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