Today The Guardian launched ‘Keep It In The Ground’, an innovative and brave campaign with a mission to encourage schools, workplaces, charities and churches to divest and move their money from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
The brainchild of Alan Rusbridger, who resigned in December and reflected on the window of opportunity in his remaining tenure to create a campaign that would drive change. Together with the environment team, he focused in on divestment.
Why does the Keep It In The Ground campaign matter?
This video by Guardian journalists explains why fossil fuels need to stay in the ground:
The Guardian highlights two opinion forming and progressive foundations worth billions to divest – the Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust. It calls on them to commit now to divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and to immediately freeze any new investments in those companies.
Changing the minds and action of institutions
Some huge endowments and investment funds have already committed to decarbonising their portfolios, exiting fossil fuels altogether and/or investing in cleaner alternatives.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Stanford, Glasgow and Australian National Universities; the British Medical Association are just a few. This marks the start of an incredible shift. But now is the time to capitalise on this and encourage other big players to follow – and that’s why this campaign has come at exactly the right time.
In his introduction to the campaign in today’s Guardian, Rusbridger explains that he wants to change the minds of two institutions that have ‘demonstrated inspiring thought leadership in other spheres of life.’
‘The Wellcome Trust handles a portfolio of more than £18bn and invests around £700m a year in science, the humanities, social science education and medical research. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of $43.5bn. Last year it gave away $3.9bn in grants towards health and sustainable development.
‘In 2014 the Wellcome Trust had £564m invested in Shell, BP, Schlumberger, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton alone. The Gates Foundation has a financial stake of over $1bn in fossil fuel companies.
‘By most standards, these are huge sums of money, helping to fund the extraction of unusable oil gas and coal on a massive scale. But, as a proportion of the foundations’ own endowments, they are relatively small – just a few percent for the fossil fuel investments we know about. So they could, we think, be divested without damaging overall returns. Indeed, we think they could achieve higher and, over time, safer returns by putting their money into other investments with real opportunities for growth in a world tackling climate change.’
Join the Keep It In The Ground campaign today
Alan Rusbridger and the Guardian team – we salute you and we are utterly in support of your awesome campaign.
Start by signing this important petition – add your name and help the Guardian put pressure on the world’s two biggest charitable funds.
But don’t stop there. The campaign also gives individuals the information they need to make their own investment decisions. Not only that, it aims to urge us to apply pressure on the workplaces, unions, schools, colleges, churches, NGOs, pension advisers and charities in their lives.