Jonathon Porritt: fossil fuel investments ‘out of kilter’ with charitable aims



Leading environmentalist Jonathon Porritt has argued that charities working to address issues connected to climate change should not invest in fossil fuel companies.

Speaking to the Guardian, Porritt argues that fossil fuel companies have had “limitless opportunities” to move towards a more sustainable business model and engagement is not working. He also notes that charities working on issues that are connected to climate change should not invest in fossil fuel companies.

Porritt added, “[They’re] all smart, are paid god knows how much money to steer through these complex areas, are betraying shareholders in term of securing long-term value creation and risking the destruction of massive value inside the company.

“There comes a point when you say this isn’t going anywhere and we have to try something else.”

The comments were made in relation to the Guardian’s divestment campaign, calling on two charitable foundations to pull their investments outs of fossil fuels. Health charity Wellcome Trust, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, has been targeted but has continued to argue that an engagement strategy is more effective than divestment.

In an open letter the Asset Owners Disclosure Project, backed the foundation’s decision not to divest from fossil fuel companies, arguing we need to divest from carbon rather than businesses.

Porritt continued, “Both [the Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation] are in a seriously hard place: both pursue public good objectives and have been extremely outspoken about the impact of climate change. You cannot persist with a set of investment principles that are totally out of kilter with the mission of your charity.”

The comments follow a report from health charity Medact and other leading health and climate organisation, which argued fossil fuel investments are “incompatible” with the moral and professional responsibilities of the sector. The report called on the health community to phase out investments in the industry, stating the direct health implications, and the longer-term health impacts of climate change, meant fossil fuel investments could no longer be considered ethical.

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Further reading:

London assembly backs fossil fuel divestment

Students call on parents to divest from fossil fuels

UN backing fossil fuel divestment campaign

Fossil fuel divestment campaigns can help ‘stigmatise’ industry

Harvard faces court over fossil fuel divestment


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