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Kayaktivists Tell Gates Foundation ‘Divest’

Above photo: From Emily Johnston on Twitter. @enjohnston.

Seattle, WA – Kayaktivists took to the waters of Lake Washington on Saturday, Oct. 24 to visit the mansion owned by Bill and Melinda Gates. They brought an empty kayak for Bill and Melinda in case they decided to join the action.

The main focus of the action was to encourage the Gates Foundation to be a world leader by divesting from fossil fuels. It is part of a new campaign, #GatesDivest, that was started earlier this year by Seattle activist Alec Connon. Connon wrote:

“Six months ago, I attended a 350 Seattle monthly meeting. At this meeting I stood up in a room of about fifty people and announced that I wanted to get the world’s largest charitable foundation, the Gates Foundation, to divest from fossil fuels. I only knew a couple of people in the room. I babbled for a while about how the Foundation had $1.2 billion invested in fossil fuel companies, about divestment being an important part of solving the global warming puzzle, and about how I had a cunning plan to make Mr. Gates see sense on this issueMy plan, I told the room, was that I was going to write a letter!”


Learn more about the campaign:

Several months ago The Guardian launched a campaign calling on the Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. Their petition, now signed by over 225,000 people, stated: “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has made a huge contribution to human progress (…) yet their investments in fossil fuels are putting much of that progress at risk. It is morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal.”

Here in Seattle, we are building a campaign to ensure that Bill and Melinda are aware that the people of Seattle strongly support The Guardian’s divestment call.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress.” – World Health Organization

This campaign is a coalition headed by grassroots climate group 350 Seattle. It will provide a passionate local voice to complement The Guardian’s worldwide petition.

350 Seattle activists have already spent countless hours building a movement behind this issue. Already, 24 Seattle-based organizations have endorsed their call to the Gates Foundation – groups including several churches, the Seattle chapters of The Sierra Club and The Audubon Society, and prominent local groups such as Got Green and Backbone Campaign.

“When instructing investment managers Bill and Melinda consider (…) the values that drive the Foundation’s work”  – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The campaign is dedicated to catalyzing local activism to engage the Gates Foundation in essential progress on climate change and fossil fuel divestment.

By building a powerful and articulate movement in this manner, we hope to persuade Bill Gates, one of the world’s most influential men, to join us in a discussion on how fossil fuel divestment can be used in the fight to prevent the worst ravages of global warming.


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