By: Richard Brooks
Big news! The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), one of the most popular and influential museums in the United States, has revealed that it has dramatically reduced investments in dirty coal, oil and gas companies from its $650 million endowment. This comes after an unprecedented letter from over 150 of the world’s top scientists calling on museums of science and natural history to cut ties with fossil fuel interests and support from tens of thousands of activists around the USA.
In the last year, the fossil free culture movement has exploded, with museums and academies such as the California and Australian Academies of Science, the Phipps Conservatory and the Chicago Field Museum all announcing commitments to divest and cut ties from fossil fuels. Others like the London Science Museum have rejected fossil fuel sponsorships. Campaigns are underway in the UK and Netherlands to push top museums to cut ties with climate change-causing companies. Even the Nobel Foundation is being pushed to take action on its investments, with more than a dozen Nobel laureates urging it to lead.
After a push lead by partners at the Natural History Museum, a pop-up museum that champions bold climate action, we learned in January that the American Museum of Natural History, which has five million visitors each year, parted ways with climate denier, oil mogul and AMNH board member David Koch. This most recent move, to cut its investments in fossil fuel companies, was revealed in a letter in response to The Natural History Museum and 350.org, and following on an appeal to divest from Dr. James Powell, former president of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and the Franklin Institute.
It’s the leadership of scientists and the fossil fuel resistance movement that secured this win, and so many others over the last year. The AMNH’s announcement comes as the Divest-Invest Network unveiled the third annual Arabella report, revealing that the global fossil fuel divestment movement has doubled since September 2015, with commitments by 688 institutions spanning 76 countries, representing more than $5 trillion in assets under management.
In the face of a dangerous and anti-climate Trump administration, it is more critical than ever for our most trusted institutions to step up as leaders and act on climate.
Read more about this by checking out the kick-ass The Natural History Museum.