For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Alec Connon, 206-331-5231 or Emily Johnston, 206-325-0116

350 Seattle Announces Local Coalition to urge Gates Foundation to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Today, local grassroots group 350 Seattle announced a campaign to urge the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to divest its holdings from fossil fuel companies in the run-up to the Paris UN climate talks (COP 21). 24 local groups and former mayor Mike McGinn have already signed on to the campaign, which will include flyering outside the Foundation's headquarters starting today. The local campaign is also coordinating with The Guardian, which started a worldwide petition to the Foundation in April, also asking it to divest from fossil fuels.
"The Gates Foundation’s mission is to end poverty, but climate change hurts the most vulnerable the hardest," says Sarra Tekola, who is working with the coalition. "If it's the poorest and most vulnerable that the Foundation wants to help, it cannot simultaneously invest in the undoing of all its work, which is what the fossil fuel industries are doing by exploring for fossil fuel, when science tells we have more than we can burn already. The Foundation needs to make a decision: do they care about people or do they care about profit more?"
"The World Health Organization predicts that from 2030 onwards up to 250,000 extra people will die as a result of climate change every year," adds Alec Connon of 350 Seattle. "The Foundation can lead on this urgent issue by divesting from fossil fuel companies”
“The Gates Foundation is a leader on world health, so we are asking for their leadership on climate change too.  We won’t stop with Gates - we’ll work to recruit a broad coalition of institutions to the cause," says former Mayor Mike McGinn. "But make no mistake, none will have greater impact worldwide than the Gates Foundation."

Further Quotes:
Bill McKibben, Founder "What a help it will be when the investments of this generous foundation align with its mission. Climate change is the great shadow across our planet's future, and we must try to lift it with every tool we have."
Jill Mangaliman, Executive Director, GotGreen: ""As a people of color-led environmental justice organization we urge the Gates Foundation to divest their support of an extractive fossil fuel economy. Too long people of color from fence line communities, especially women and children, have carried the environmental burdens of global warming. It is time for industry and institutions to take responsibility for the damage of the Earth and our communities."
Rev. Charis Weathers of Echoes Lutheran Church, Bellingham: 
"It is morally suspect to continue to profit from fossil fuel extraction and consumption when these corporations are contributing so heavily to devastating climate change. Ultimately we can choose our own destiny: will we make the difficult decision to change our energy needs, or will we continue to oppress the poorest communities and ecosystems that suffer the most, while lining our pockets?"

Signers of the letter so far include: 
Sierra Club, Seattle Chapter
Audubon Society, Seattle Chapter
Backbone Campaign
Echoes Lutheran Church
Eastside Friends Meeting, Bellevue (Quaker Church) 
Unitarian Universalist Church, Edmonds; Peace and Justice Committee
Seattle Green Party
Mangrove Action Project
Capitol Hill Community Council
Capitol Hill Urban Co-Housing
The Compassion Games
Catalytic Community
The Dignity Virus
Seattle Environmental Activists
Restoring Eden
Earth Citizen Center
Earth Ship Seattle
UW Divest
Seattle University, Sustainable Student Action

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350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth. But solutions exist. All around the world, a movement is building to take on the climate crisis, to get humanity out of the danger zone and below 350. This movement is massive, it is diverse, and it is visionary. We are activists, scholars, and scientists. We are leaders in our businesses, our churches, our governments, and our schools. We are clean energy advocates, forward-thinking politicians, and fearless revolutionaries. And we are united around the world, driven to make our planet livable for all who come after us.

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