Crashing oil prices cost the world’s second-largest non-government funder of medical research £175 million in investment losses in the last year, according to an analysis published last month by The Guardian.
“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,” the paper reports. “BHP Billiton’s share price slid by 45%, Shell’s by 30%, Rio Tinto’s by 29%, and BP’s by 21%.”
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The Trust “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%,” Carrington writes. The Trust is the focus of a Guardian campaign urging it to divest fossil fuel holdings estimated at £370 million.
350.org founder Bill McKibben said the money the Trust lost could have been invested in urgent medical research. “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,” he told The Guardian. “I’m sure they’ll wise up eventually, but for the sake of the planet, one hopes it happens sooner rather than later.”
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