It's the 'biggest story in the world.' A direct appeal to one of the world's most generous givers.
If you could ask Bill Gates for anything, what would you ask?
He calls it the "biggest story in the world."
Newspaper editors aren't known for taking to the streets to campaign for things they're personally passionate about. But that's exactly what The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, is doing.
In 2015, Rusbridger launched Keep It in the Ground, a climate-change campaign aimed at minimizing the future extraction of fossil fuels.
The campaign specifically targets the world's two largest philanthropic organizations: the Wellcome Trust and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, asking them to move their money out of fossil fuel companies.
The goal? For the two mega-funders to divest their investments from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and to immediately freeze any new investments in those companies.
The Wellcome Trust is one of the world's largest funders of medical research. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a doing-good list that's a mile long. It's dedicated to closing the health gap between rich and poorer countries, taking on issues like ridding the world of malaria and polio, and controlling the spread of tuberculosis and HIV.
These groups don't fall easily into a "bad guy" category. They actually do a world of good. So why target them?
Because between the two of them, these two foundations own some $1.4 billion in oil, coal, and gas stocks.
So far about 202,000 people have signed on to the campaign, including a number of very influential people:
“People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change"— Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus
What do the two heavy-weight charitable organizations think about the campaign?
The Wellcome Trust responded that the goal ought to be working with coal and oil companies, engaging them to develop alternative energy technologies. After all, aren't these companies the best positioned to invest in new forms of energy production?
To that Rusbridger says, nope. Oil and gas companies have had their chance, they're dragging their feet, and action just can't wait.
And what about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation? What have they said? *crickets* Nothing. They've actually been conspicuously quiet.
So the Keep It in the Ground campaign sent a message to Bill Gates personally. Here is what they said:
What do you think? Is the Guardian asking foundations to put their money where their mouth is, or are they on the wrong track? Check out more videos, campaign updates, a behind-the-scenes podcast series, and more at the Keep It in the Ground website. If you agree, here's the link to sign a petition to let these foundations know!