Climate activists call on Clinton Foundation to cut ties with fossil fuel interests
Contact: Lindsay Meiman, 350 Action, +1 (347) 460-9082
NEW YORK, NY — Ahead of Thursday’s Democratic debate in Brooklyn and the New York primary next Tuesday, leaders across the fossil fuel divestment movement are calling on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to cut ties with the fossil fuel industry.
The call, addressed to Foundation President Donna E. Shalala, Founder and Chair President Bill Clinton, and Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, urges the Clinton Foundation to stop new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies, divest current holdings in coal, oil and gas, invest in our communities and clean energy, and direct the Clinton Global Initiative to no longer accept donations or pledges from fossil fuel companies.
“Taking money from and investing in the fossil fuel industry poses a challenge to all of the good work the Clinton Foundation is doing around climate, health, and poverty,” said May Boeve, a spokesperson for 350 Action. “The Clinton Foundation risks standing on the wrong side of history at this pivotal moment.”
As major fossil fuel companies declare bankruptcy, slash jobs, cancel projects and report massive financial losses, renewable energy is attracting a record level of global investment. Over 500 institutions representing more than $3.4 trillion in assets under management have committed to some level of fossil fuel divestment. To date, 125 Foundations have pledged to divest, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, and the Wallace Global Fund, DC.
“The global fossil fuel divestment movement has captured the wind in the sails of the climate movement,” said Boeve. “The money is moving, and today’s greatest economic opportunity lies in a just transition toward a 100% renewable energy economy that works for all.”
The day before the New Hampshire primary at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Isabella McCann, a freshman at Bowdoin College, asked former U.S. President and Clinton Foundation Founder Bill Clinton, as well as Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton, about the Foundation’s close connections with the fossil fuel industry.
When asked if the Foundation would divest from the top 200 oil and gas companies, Chelsea Clinton said that the Foundation has no investments in fossil fuels. While the Clinton Climate Initiative works to make strategic investments in climate solutions, to public knowledge, the larger Foundation endowment is still invested in fossil fuels.
When McCann asked Bill Clinton if the Foundation would stop accepting donations from Big Oil and Gas, he argued that these donations have allowed the multi-billion dollar charity to get closer to accomplishing their mission.
“Through their financial ties, political and philanthropic leaders give inappropriate access to the fossil fuel industry, and they use this power to push extreme extraction and fuel the climate crisis. The divestment movement has set a new standard for our leaders and their foundations: no amount of money from fossil fuel interests is acceptable,” said Katie McChesney, 350 Action spokesperson. “The Clintons have an incredible amount of political and financial capital through their Foundation. The window is wide open for them to shift it away from destructive corporations and towards a rapid and just transition.”
Young people across the country have been asking about Hillary Clinton’s ties to the fossil fuel industry since July. Days after the conclusion of the Paris climate talks, Clinton vowed to look into fossil fuel donations to her campaign.
Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton was asked by an activist if she would keep her word to act on climate by pledging to reject fossil fuel money, the former Secretary of State asserted that she is “so sick of the Sanders campaign lying” about her.
At the same campaign event last week, the former Senator of New York claimed that she supported New York’s statewide ban on fracking. Throughout her campaign, supportive super PACs have credited her with “selling fracking to the world” during her tenure as Secretary of State. ExxonMobil, who took an active step back from the Clinton Foundation in recent years and is under current investigation for their climate lies, is now the world’s biggest fracker.
The climate movement has pushed Clinton to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, oppose toxic trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and suggest a moratorium for all fossil fuel extraction on public lands. There is a global fossil fuel resistance gearing up to Break Free from fossil fuels this May.
“The world is sending a clear signal to our institutions and politicians: the end of the fossil fuel era is here,” said Boeve. “This is an opportunity for the Clinton Foundation to prove themselves as climate leaders and join the movement in taking back our systems from the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
350 Action has not endorsed any presidential candidate and is working in primary states to urge candidates for president to take bold action on climate change by pledging to keep fossil fuels in the ground and support a just transition to a 100% renewable energy economy that works for all.
Break Free is an unprecedented mobilisation of local and international organizations and grassroots groups and regional coalitions to stop fossil fuel projects on 6 continents, demonstrating the global resolve to transition off fossil fuels and build the new kind of economy that we know is possible. Actions happening across the US are targeting:
- Colorado, May 12 & 14: federal fossil fuel lease auction, and proposed fracking site.
- Pacific Northwest, May 13: Shell and Tesoro refineries north of Seattle
- Albany, NY, May 14: crude oil bomb trains
- Los Angeles, CA, May 14: urban and rural fracking, largest urban oil field in the US
- Washington, DC, May 15: Stop Offshore Drilling Action
- Midwest, May 15: tar sands pipelines and infrastructure expansion
Bill Clinton Video: http://bit.ly/1SwhNqq
Isabella McCann: Will the Clinton Foundation stop taking donations from the top 200 oil and gas companies?
Bill Clinton: [Pause] Not unless you can show me how to turn them from our mission. Our Foundation has been working for a decade to liberate the entire Caribbean from carbon emissions.
Isabella McCann: Millions of dollars have been donated to your foundation from Exxon and Chevron.
Bill Clinton: What happened? Would you rather we have not done any emergency relief? Would you have preferred that we didn’t have more than half the people on Earth staying alive from AIDS medication, coming from contracts negotiated? Seventy-five percent of all the children on Earth alive today are on drugs that we negotiated prices for. More of our people… Liberia… ebola…[noise drowns conversation out]. We have been driving to make the Caribbean totally carbon free. We’ve been able to do this by voluntary agreement, carbon storage…We have the only independent work…And, I don’t, I filled all of my contributions, and for any international ones it’s always better… and, I think it’s better to do more good, and I’m happy to be judged by it. Whatever… a small percent… of everybody has an impact saving lives. We’ve got 85,000 farmers African healthcare, the worst we have done on our worst day was to double their income.
Chelsea Clinton Video: http://bit.ly/1MrEzUc
Isabella McCann: Hi, I’m a young student, I’m concerned about climate change, and I would like to know if the Clinton Foundation will divest from fossil fuels?
Chelsea Clinton: We have no investments in the fossil fuel industry.
Isabella McCann: You’ve been taking money from the fossil fuel industry, donations from the fossil fuel industry.
Chelsea Clinton: Well, yeah, but divest means ‘are you invested in’ and we have no investments in the fossil fuel industry. And we have the largest, most comprehensive plan to actually help small island nations. So most of what we do in the climate change space is actually working with countries in the Caribbean and the South Pacific to help them get off the diesel-dependent energy infrastructure and move forward to wind, thermo, electric, so…
Isabella McCann: I love everything you’re talking about, but you’ve accepted millions of dollars from Exxon and Chevron. To stop accepting donations from the fossil fuel industry would be to take a stance against it, to make it part of the movement, that started by the divest movement across college campuses.
Chelsea Clinton: I think there’s a difference between divestment, okay, so…
Isabella McCann: Yes there is! But they’re definitely related…
Chelsea Clinton: I disagree with that. If anyone wants to be part of the solution, I think we wanna have them, right? The more people we have part of the solution the more likely we’re going to be able to make progress. Those are just different, those are just different views. I mean we’re asking, we’re working against continued dependence on diesel, I don’t know how we can be any more clear about that. And if they want to help us do that, I want everybody on our team.