During our Gates Divest campaign 68 WA-based faith leaders, 74 WA-based organizations, 10 of the 18 candidates for the 2015 Seattle City Council elections and over 235,000 citizens and over 1,000 health professionals from around the world joined our call to the Gates Foundation asking them to use their social power by divesting from fossil fuels.

Below is the full text of the letters that were signed by the WA-based organizations, faith leaders and civic leaders. 



Dear Bill and Melinda Gates,

Your foundation has done a great deal of good in the world. In efforts that have contributed to the near-eradication of polio to the global fight against malaria, your generosity has made manifest the values that are at the heart of all of the world’s major religions.

As leaders of our religious communities, we write to you today to ask that you extend that integrity to the investment decisions of the Gates Foundation Asset Trust, an organization of which you are both trustees.

Global warming is the gravest threat to life on Earth as we know it. As you know, it is not only a threat to future generations; it is here and it is now. Parts of the Amazon rainforest are already turning into savannah. Coral reefs in the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific are already dying, as the oceans grow ever warmer and ever more acidic. We are already seeing climate refugees throughout the world; a massive drought was one of the precipitating factors in the civil war tearing Syria apart. Closer to home, we see superstorms devastate cities such as New Orleans and New York with increasing regularity, and California is entering the fourth year of a devastating drought. Even here in Washington, climate change has begun its relentless destabilization: our snowpack has plummeted, our drinking water levels are dangerously low, and the largest wildfires in our history have scorched our lands and burned our homes. This is not, as some have called it, “the new normal”: it will get far worse if we don’t end fossil fuel use as soon as possible.

With all of this in mind, we respectfully ask that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation use its considerable moral and economic influence to further this critical struggle by refusing to profit from companies with economic models dependent on the destruction of Earth’s systems. We urge you to commit to divesting your financial holdings from fossil fuel companies, many of whom fight and oppose action on climate change, prior to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year.

Yours in hope and faith,

Reverend Charis Weathers, Echoes Lutheran Church, Bellingham; Reverend Jenny Phillips, Minister of Environmental Stewardship and Advocacy and Fossil Free UMC Coordinator PNW Conference of The United Methodist Church; Sister Liz Colver, Community Organizer for Catacomb Churches; Reverend Dr. James Kubal-Komoto, Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church; Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD; Imam Jamal Rahman, Interfaith Community Sanctuary, Seattle; Venerable Thubten Chodron, Abbess of Sravasti Abbey, Newport, WA; Venerable Thubten Chonyi, Sravsti Abbey, Newport, WA; Reverend Dr. Mark Newton, Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Seattle; Reverend Kay Barkley, University Temple, United Methodist Church, Seattle; Reverend Katire Klosterman, Browns Point United Methodist Church, Seattle; Reverend DJ Del Rosario, Bothell United Methodist Church, Bothell; Reverend Carol Jensen, co-chair Faith Action Network; Reverend Tandi Rogers, Unitarian Universalist Minister; Reverend Beatrice Hitchcock, Unitarian Universalist Minister; Reverend Brigitta Remole, Plymouth Church, United Church of Christ, Seattle; Reverend Meighan Pritchard, Environmental Justice Curriculum Trainer, United Church of Christ, and Pastor, Prospect United Church of Christ, Seattle; Reverend Kelle J. Brown, Associate Minister, Plymouth United Church of Christ, Seattle; Reverend Terry Teigan, United Church of Christ, Seattle; Reverend James Spraker, United Church of Christ, Seattle; Reverend Lindalee Purdy, United Church of Christ, Seattle;  Reverend Joy R. Haertig, Magnolia United Church of Christ; Reverend John-Otto Liljenstope, Northwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Reverend Britt Olson, St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Seattle; Reverend Sharon  Nichols, Chaplain, Horizon House, Seattle; Reverend Kathleen Weber, Trinity UMC, Seattle; Reverend Ronald Hines, retired United Methodist; Reverend Cody Natland, Bay View UMC, Mt. Vernon and Central UMC, Sedro Wolley; Reverend Marcella Baker, La Connor UMC, La Connor; Reverend Richenda Fairhurst, Camas UMC, Camas; Reverend Janelle Kurtz, Sand Point Community UMC, Seattle; Reverend Dale L. Cockrum, Inland District UMC Superintendent, Spokane; Reverend Geoff Helton, Audubon Park UMC, Spokane; Reverend Elizabeth Ingram Schindler, Faith UMC, Issaquah; Reverend Paul Mitchell, Rainier Beach UMC, Seattle; Reverend Abigail Vizcarra Perez, The Bridge UMC, Tacoma; Reverend Kelvin J. Brown, The Bridge UMC, Tacoma; Reverend Monica Corsaro, Mary's Place, Seattle; Reverend Sharon L. Moe, First UMC, Seattle; Reverend Jan Bolerjack, Riverton Park UMC, Tukwila; Reverend Brad Beeman, Aldersgate UMC, Bellevue; Reverend Meredith Dodd, Bear Creek UMC, Redmond; Reverend Emma Donohew, Green Lake UMC, Seattle; Reverend John Helmiere, Valley and Mountain UMC, Seattle; Reverend Alissa Bertch Johnson, Cheney UMC, Cheney; Reverend Karen Yokota, Puyallup UMC, Puyallup; Reverend Beryl Ingram, First UMC, Bellevue; Reverend Jenny Partch, Kennydale UMC, Renton; Reverend Mary Boyd, Langley UMC, Langley; Reverend Ann Adkinson, First UMC, Tacoma; Reverend Deanna Widermuth, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Mercer Island; Reverend Bethany Hull Somers, Burlington Lutheran Church, Burlington; Reverend Tor Kristian Berg, First Lutheran Church, Bothell; Pastor Caralyn Holmquist, Morning Star Lutheran Church, Monroe; Pastor Bryan Hansen, Phinney Ridge Lutheran Church; Reverend Terri Stewart, Youth Chaplaincy Coalition; Pastor Deana Strom, Chaplain at Horizon House; Reverend Sara Wolbrecht, Pastor of Salt House Church, Kirkland; Pastor Darla DeFrance, Columbia City Church of Hope, Columbia City; Pastor Katie Ladd, The Well, Seattle; Pastor Gail Rautmann, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Lynnwood; Pastor Priscilla Austin, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Seattle; Pastor Anja Helman, North Lake Lutheran Church; Reverend Mary-Alyce Burleigh; Reverend Abby d'Ambruoso, Fir-Conway Lutheran Church, Mt Vernon; Pastor Julie G. Hutson, Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, Seattle; Reverend Ryan Fletcher, Christ the King Lutheran Church, Snohomish; Glen Gersmehl, National Coordinator, Lutheran Peace Fellowship and Director, Peace and Justice Resource Center; Lutheran Peace Fellowship; Peace & Justice Resource Center; Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds, Peace and Justice Committee; The Well, United Methodist Ministry; Eastside Friends Meeting, Quaker Church, Bellevue


Dear Bill and Melinda Gates,
With the full support of the organizations that have co-signed this letter, we at Gates Divest and 350 Seattle wish to open a dialogue with the Gates Foundation over the possibilities surrounding the fossil fuel divestment movement.
We would first like to acknowledge and pay respect to you for the vast resources that the Gates Foundation dedicates to philanthropy every year, and the good work that you thereby achieve.
Secondly, we would also like to commend the Gates Foundation Asset Trust’s recent decision to divest $765.9 million worth of shares from ExxonMobil.
However, we believe that this decision does not go far enough.
We believe that a charitable foundation with the global reach of the Gates Foundation has a moral obligation to divest completely from the fossil fuel industry.
We believe that the Gates Foundation’s continued investment in the fossil fuel industry runs counter to the objective of much of the philanthropic work of the Foundation, especially the work you carry out in the world's poorer nations, where global warming is having the most immediate impacts and which science has now confirmed will only grow more devastating as time goes on.
Given the size and prestige of the Gates Foundation, it is clear that your divestment will send a strong message to the world’s political leaders that it is socially and morally unacceptable to profit from industries that cause global warming and threaten the biodiversity and global security of the planet.
Therefore, we ask that representatives of the Gates Foundation agree to meet with representatives of Gates Divest to discuss a pathway for the fossil fuel divestment of The Gates Foundation Asset Trust.
To arrange this meeting please contact: alec@350seattle.org
350 Seattle, Sierra Club, Seattle Chapter, Audubon Society, Seattle Chapter, Got Green?, EPIC, Seattle Black Book Club; Forest Ethics; Backbone Campaign, UNITE HERE! Local 8, Puget Sound Sage, Community Alliance for Global Justice/AGRA Watch, Institute for Neuorotoxicology and Neurological Disorders, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Community 2 Community; Washington Community Action Network; One America; Iraq Veterans Against War; Socialist Alternative; Hilltop Urban Garden; WA-state Green Party; El Centri Del La Raza; The Mosquito Fleet; Domestic Fair Trade Association; Chuckanut Transition; Other 98; Pilchuck Audubon Society, Snohomish County; Echoes Lutheran Church; The Well, UMC Ministry; Eastside Friends Meeting, Bellevue (Quaker Church); Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds, Peace and Justice Committee; Seattle Green Party; 350 Bellingham; Mangrove Action Project; Olympic Climate Action; Capitol Hill Community Council; Capitol Hill Urban Co-Housing; Climate Change for Families; CoolMom; Evergreen Islands; Y @ Cascades; The Compassion Games; Catalytic Community; Meaningful Movies; The Dignity Virus; Protect Skagit; Seattle Environmental Activists; Restoring Eden; Evergreen Students for Climate Action; Entomo-Logic; 43rd LD Democrats Environmental Caucus; 37th District Environmental Justice Network; Left Field Organizing; Earth Citzien Center; Earth Ship Seattle; UW Divest; Seattle University, Sustainable Student Action; EqualiSea.org


In these next few months the world is prepping up for the Paris Climate talks. These global negotiations marks the 21st meeting of the world coming together to discuss how we will tackle one of humanity’s largest challenges yet: climate change. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, this is the last year the world has to develop a plan to reduce emissions if we intend to keep below two degrees of warming. The target of keeping global warming below two degrees is the only agreement that has been made in the last twenty years of UN climate talks. The time is up for stalling, this is the year we have to take action.

The good news is that countries are electing to make drastic cuts to emissions and create carbon policies themselves, as a gesture to show the rest of the world they are ready for climate action. The Chinese government has announced they will be putting in a cap and trade program. The Obama Administration has put forth a Clean Power Plan and asked for companies to take action themselves. 81 companies have chosen to cut their emissions voluntarily. These 81 companies include Facebook, Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike and Goldman Sachs. The diversity of corporations that are electing to regulate themselves includes the largest corporations in the world. However, the fossil fuel companies are noticeably absent from this list.

This is why there has been a movement to divest our investments from the fossil fuel industry. They have repeatedly shown us they are not willing to move forward towards fueling our energy renewably, and are now holding us back. These companies continue to explore for more fossil fuels when we already have enough fossil fuels in our reserves alone to put us past five degrees of warming. These reserves are unable to be burned but accounted for in the value of the stocks. This is also why our continued investment in fossil fuels is risky, since once a climate policy is put in place, money in fossil fuels will become stranded assets.

When moral and intellectual leaders divest publicly, they revoke the legitimacy and social license of coal, oil, and gas companies to recklessly pursue business models that threaten civilization with catastrophic climate change. Seattle is a leader in sustainability, we are on a path to carbon neutrality by 2050 and we were the first to announce divestment as a City. Our City leaders share our vision of sustainability, in fact the University of Washington was the largest university to divest from coal at the time. However, we can do more than this, we support divestment from all fossil fuels as a tactic for climate action. We call on leaders in Seattle, including the City retirement fund, the University of Washington endowment and the Gates Foundation to continue their leadership in sustainability by divesting from fossil fuel

Signed By:

District 1: Lisa Herbold

District 2: Tammy Morales
District 3: Kshama Sawant & Pamela Banks

District 4: Michael Maddux & Rob Johnson
District 5: Sandy Brown
District 6: Mike O'Brien
District 8: Bill Bradburd
District 9: Jon Grant