Gates Foundation Cuts Fossil Fuel Investments — but Why?
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.
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.