Ethical Performance
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Gates charity challenged to divest fossil fuel stocks

June 2015

Bill Gates, founder of one of the world’s biggest corporations, has been asked to lead the fight against climate change.

Gates, who set up Microsoft in 1975, could set an example by withdrawing the stakes in fossil fuel companies held by the charity he runs with his wife, says the UK newspaper The Guardian. It has sent a similar appeal to the Wellcome Trust, the huge medical charity.

For the Gates charity the divesting would entail moving $1.4bn (£893m, €1.25bn) in oil, coal and gas stocks into alternatives. The newspaper has written in a personal message to Gates: “The logic is simple. These companies are committed to prospecting for more fossil fuels at a time when proven reserves are already far greater than we can afford to safely burn.”

The original aims of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which Bill is now the full-time co-chair, are to enhance healthcare and reduce poverty worldwide and to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in the US.

In January Bill and Melinda focused on climate change in their annual letter: “The long-term threat … is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively – right now – to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand and emit zero carbon dioxide.”

Following this declaration, the newspaper responded: “If the Gates Foundation were to divest, it would send a powerful signal to fossil fuel companies that business as usual is not acceptable.”

It claims that such action by the foundation would have a “snowball effect on other organisations currently considering whether to move their own money” and would be “real climate change leadership”.

UK & NI Ireland | fossil fuels

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