After months of pressure, the Gates Foundation recently sold $178 million of BP stock

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Last Autumn the Gates Divest campaign, a coalition of 68 WA-based faith leaders, 74 WA-based social justice groups and 10 of the 18 candidates for the 2015 Seattle City Council election, called upon The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to sell off the approximately $1.4 million it had invested in fossil fuel companies.  Kayaktivists took to the waters outside of the Gates’ Medina mansion, leafletted for three months outside of the Foundation, and delivered letters from the President of WA Physicians for Social Responsibility as well as faith, civil, youth and social justice leaders from the Seattle community

The local campaign was supplemented by an international campaign run by The Guardian newspaper, and is part of the larger fossil fuel divestment movement -  the fastest growing divestment movement in history.   Foundations, colleges, cities, non-profit organizations, businesses and individuals have now divested portfolios worth $3.4 trillion, choosing instead to invest in a sustainable future.

The aim of the divestment movement is to break the power of the fossil fuel companies, who have used their profits to deceive the public, influence political campaigns, and fight laws and regulations designed to reduce the threat of global warming.  Divestment sends a clear signal to our elected leaders that the health and safety of our communities is more important than profits.

The Gates Foundation provided no formal response to the Seattle community leaders. But we have now learned in the final quarter of 2015 they sold all $178 million worth of their BP shares. This is on top of the sale of over $800 million worth of Exxon stock which was disclosed last fall. This means that the Gates Foundation has now dropped their total fossil fuel holdings from somewhere in the region of $1.4 billion two years ago, to closer to $300 million today.

“We are thrilled that the Gates Foundation continues to divest from fossil fuel stocks, but it’s time to divest the rest.  Investing in oil companies is completely inconsistent with the Gates Foundation mission to ensure that everybody has the chance to live a healthy, productive life,” said Gates Divest organizer Alec Connon.

“They’re moving their financial capital - now it’s time to use their moral capital and publicly commit to divestment,” said Mike McGinn, who as Mayor of Seattle in 2013 was the first mayor to commit a city to divestment.  “By taking a public stand, Bill and Melinda Gates could help change the debate and speed up the international response to global warming.”

On Monday May 9th at 4pm representatives of youth climate group Plant for the Planet, Rev. Katie Ladd and members of the Gates Divest team will be delivering a rather large thank you card  to the Gates Foundation, with a very clear message on the inside of the card: “Now Please Divest The Rest!”