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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sold off all of its BP stocks, The Guardian reported this week. According to the report, the foundation sold its $187 million stake in BP between September and December last year.
The Gates Foundation has not commented on the move, but a nonprofit, called Gates Divest, which has been petitioning the foundation to divest from fossil fuels, said in a statement that it was “thrilled that the Gates Foundation continues to divest from fossil fuel stocks.”
The nonprofit estimated that, including the over $800 million the Gates Foundation divested from Exxon stock last year, the foundation’s total fossil fuel investments have dropped from approximately $1.4 billion two years ago to $300 million now.
Despite the foundation’s move to divest, Bill Gates previously called fossil fuel divestment a “false solution” in an interview with The Atlantic.
Nevertheless, a number of governments, philanthropies, and institutions have divested or announced their intention to divest in recent years due to the growing threat of climate change and amidst public pressure from environmental groups, in particular the 350.org group, which has led a “keep it in the ground campaign,” with regards to fossil fuels.
For example, in 2014, the heirs to the Rockefeller family announced that they would join a philanthropic coalition committed to fossil fuel divestment and that they would divest some $860 million worth of fossil fuel investments from its Rockefeller Brothers Fund.
Last year, Norway said it would not only reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, but that it would also divest from coal companies and other fossil fuel companies due to “high levels of uncertainty about the sustainability of their business model.”
Investment firms, financial professionals and individuals are also becoming more conscious of the companies in their investment portfolios. According to a survey of Socially Responsible Investment professionals, more than half offer portfolios without a fossil fuel extraction company, up from 22 percent three years ago. The investment professionals noted that, increasingly, fossil fuel-free portfolios are being asked for by institutional investors.