Hewlett Foundation Begins to Distance Itself from Financing Fossil Fuels
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the US’s biggest and most influential foundations, has taken a small step to distance itself from financing fossil fuels.
The Menlo Park-based foundation, a leading funder of programs to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, has amended its social investment policy to say that it will refrain from future investments in private partnerships primarily involved in oil and gas drilling. It will do so, the policy says, “to reflect the Foundation’s extraordinary commitment to mitigating climate change.”
This is significant, for a couple of reasons. First, with $9 billion in assets, Hewlett is the US’s 5th biggest foundation, measured by asset size, according to theFoundation Center. While Hewlett’s step falls far short of divestment, Hewlett becomes the biggest and most influential foundation to publicly exclude some fossil-fuel investments from its investment portfolio. For context: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which got a lot of attention when it decided to divest fossil fuels last year, has about $900 million in assets, placing it 98th in the rankings. Most other foundations that have agreed to divest are much smaller.