Medical charity sold off two-thirds of its investments in Shell but lost an estimated £175m in the last year due to falling share prices in the fossil fuel sector.
The Wellcome Trust’s investments in fossil fuel companies have lost an estimated £175m in the last year, due to sharp falls in share prices. Research by the Guardian shows the medical charity has sold off two-thirds of its holding in Shell but also increased its investment in the fastest falling of its stocks, mining giant BHP Billiton, by 8%.
The Wellcome Trust is the world’s second-biggest non-governmental funder of medical research but has been the focus of a Guardian campaign asking the Trust to sell its fossil fuel investments, which today stand at an estimated £370m.
Current fossil fuel reserves are already several times greater than could be burned while keeping below the internationally agreed target of 2C of global warming. But coal, oil and gas companies continue to explore for new reserves. The Keep it in the Ground campaign argues that financing such companies is inconsistent for an organisation dedicated to improving health, given that a recent landmark report concluded climate change threatens to undermine half a century of progress in global health.
The Wellcome Trust – which funds a range of research into diseases such as cancer, malaria and Ebola – invests in four major fossil fuel companies, all of which have seen large falls in their share prices in the last year. BHP Billiton’s share price slid by 45%, Shell’s by 30%, Rio Tinto’s by 29% and BP by 21%.
Bill McKibben, founder of the global fossil fuel divestment campaign which has seen companies, universities, churches, cities and philanthropic organisations around the world divest, said the Wellcome Trust’s failure to divest from fossil fuels meant it had lost money that could have funded its programmes.
“It’s sad that the Wellcome Trust is fine with drilling the Arctic and building vast new coal mines; and it’s sad, too, that their ability to finance their fine work suffers from this myopia,” said McKibben. “I’m sure they’ll wise up eventually, but for the sake of the planet one hopes it happens sooner rather than later.”
Press link for more: Damian Carrington | theguardian.com