Nobel Prize winners urge foundation to divest from fossil fuels
The Nobel Foundation is under pressure to divest from fossil fuels.
In an open letter, Nobel Prize winners, climate scientists and campaigners from Divest Nobel said the foundation needs to divest $420 million (£333m) from destructive fossil fuel companies.
Divest Nobel argue that by knowingly contributing to climate change, the foundation is contradicting its original intent to recognise and award people that act for the greater benefit of humankind.
The group is urging the Nobel Foundation to not invest in companies that gain more than 5% of their revenue from coal, oil and gas and suggests all assets invested in such businesses should be withdrawn within five years.
They also stress the importance of reporting the process openly and transparently to clearly demonstrate their intentions, in the hope that other institutions will follow suit.
Among the 14 Nobel Prize winners that signed the letter are atmospheric chemist Paul Josef Crutzen, physicist David Wineland and biologist Sir John Sulston as well as several winners of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.
The text of the letter, and the 14 signatories, follow:
December 7 th , 2016
Dear Dr. Lars Heikensten,
We, scientists and Nobel laureates from around the world, are writing to request that the Nobel Foundation take further action on climate change by ending its investments in fossil fuels.
In his will, Alfred Nobel wrote that prizes should be awarded to those who “shall have conferred the greatest benefit to [hu]mankind“. As scientists and laureates embracing Alfred Nobel’s final words, it is our expectation that the Nobel Foundation also act in the interest of humankind which includes caring for the health of the planet which we all rely upon.
The Nobel Foundation has played a historic role in the struggle against climate change by recognising people who have highlighted and studied humankind’s impact on the climate.
Today, in this time of urgent need, as we face a warming planet and strive to implement the Paris Agreement, we ask you to do more. Our educational and cultural institutions must do more than educate, they must be an example of a new pathway forward, free from the industries that have caused the most damage to our climate.
More than 600 institutions with total assets of more than $3.4 trillion, have committed to divest from fossil fuels, taking a clear stance against the main drivers of climate change. This includes over 100 foundations and major cities such as Stockholm, Paris, Copenhagen, Washington DC and Berlin. Eminent educational institutions and academies such as the California and Australian Academies of Science and Phipps Conservatory, and universities such as Stockholm, Stanford, and Yale – which have provided numerous laureates – have also made divestment commitments. Faith organisations numbering in the hundreds have cut their financial ties to fossil fuel companies. It is time for the Nobel Foundation to join these ranks.
We believe that the Nobel Foundation – for all that it represents – the good and creativity of humanity – should not profit from the destruction of our planet’s climate.
We call on the Nobel Foundation to fully align its investments with its principles and mission by:
1. Immediately stopping any new investments in companies who derive more than 5%
of their revenue from coal, oil and gas
2. Dropping coal, oil and gas from its investment portfolio by divesting from these fossil
fuel companies within five years, and
3. Publicly communicating the foundation’s commitment and regularly reporting on
implementation of its progress.
4. Committing to and prioritising reinvesting the majority of its portfolio into climate
solutions that support renewable energy, clean energy access and energy efficiency,
and community adaptation and resiliency.
We believe that the Nobel Foundation can influence not only others to divest, but also inspire our world leaders and our fellow citizens to act more swiftly to address climate change. The time could not be more urgent.
Paul Josef Crutzen, Netherlands, Chemistry 1995
Shirin Ebadi, Iran, Peace 2003
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Argentina, Peace 1980
Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, Peace 2011
Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, Peace 2011
Mairead Maguire, UK/Northern Ireland, Peace 1976
John Polanyi, Canada, Chemistry 1986
Thomas A. Steitz, USA, Chemistry 2009
John Sulston, UK, Physiology or Medicine 2002
Harold Varmus, USA, Physiology or Medicine, 1989
John Walker, UK, Chemistry, 1997
Jody Williams, USA, Peace 1997
David Wineland, USA, Physics 2012
American Friends Service Committee, USA, Peace 1947
Jason Box, USA, Contributor to the Nobel winning IPCC, Peace 2007
Graciela Chichilnisky, USA, Contributor to the Nobel winning IPCC, Peace 2007
Michael Mann, USA, Contributor to the Nobel winning IPCC, Peace 2007
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Germany, Contributor to the Nobel winning IPCC, Peace 2007
The World Medical Association (WMA) recently called on its members to divest from fossil fuels.