Gates Foundation Cuts Fossil Fuel Investments — but Why?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Almost every day for the past several months, protesters gathered outside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Seattle headquarters, exhorting the world’s richest philanthropy to fight climate change by pulling its investments from fossil-fuel companies.

As usual when it comes to questions about its portfolio, the foundation responded with silence.

 But tax documents posted Monday show that the foundation has significantly scaled back its holdings in some of the world’s biggest oil, coal and gas companies.

In 2013, the trust that manages the foundation’s portfolio held at least $1.4 billion in stocks and bonds in companies like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, which rank among the Fossil Free Index’s top 200 based on the size of their fossil-fuel reserves.

The trust’s 2014 tax return shows investments in those firms fell to about $475 million. The total number of shares in those companies held by the foundation dropped about 10 million. And a handful of fossil-fuel companies — most notably Exxon — were purged from the portfolio.

Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a leader of the local Gates Divestmovement, said he thinks the changes mean the Gateses are paying attention to the fast-growing divestment campaign, which has been embraced by more than 400 institutions worldwide representing $2.6 trillion in investments.

Source: The Seattle Times (link opens in a new window)

Energy, Investing