February 12, 2016

Guerilla projection throws spotlight on Wellcome Trust’s harmful investments

Press release – For Immediate Release 12/02/16

Contact: for photos, video and quotes – Ellen Gibson, ellen@350.org, 07981277248

Guerilla projection throws spotlight on Wellcome Trust’s harmful investments

London, UK — Following the Wellcome Trust’s decision to increase its investments in coal and other fossil fuels, divestment campaigners last night projected figures about the harmful impacts of climate change on health onto the Wellcome Trust’s buildings in central London.Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 21.01.48

The projections aimed to highlight the contradictions between the Wellcome Trust’s philosophy of ‘improving health for everyone’ and their policy of investing in the fossil fuel industry.

Ten metre high infographics on the buildings’ facades cited the medical imperative to ‘do no harm’, the 400,000 climate-related deaths per year, and the need to keep at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change [1].

Drew Pearce, a founder of the Progressive Science Institute, commented:

“The harmful effects of burning fossil fuels on both human populations and the wider ecosystem is well known to the scientific community. Scientific bodies and institutions dedicated to improving human and ecological health must stop funding technologies which undermine this goal”.

A thousand health professionals have supported calls for the Trust to divest from fossil fuels, as well as over 236,000 people who signed the Guardian’s petition as part of their Keep It In The Ground campaign [2].

Last year Jeremy Farrar, the director of The Wellcome Trust, claimed that the Trust is a responsible investor and ‘engages’ with the fossil fuel companies it is invested in.

Danni Paffard, divestment campaigner at 350.org, says;

“The Wellcome Trust claims to be engaging with companies whose primary business is fossil fuel extraction, whilst refusing to give a single example of how their engagement is helping to mitigate the catastrophic consequences of climate change.

In a week when a body representing thousands of doctors have voted to divest and reinvest in clean energy in the US, the Wellcome Trust is under increasing pressure to explain how they can meet their objectives whilst investing in fossil fuels [3].”

This action kicks off a weekend of over 50 actions across the UK calling on a wide range of institutions to divest from fossil fuels as part of the student Go Green Week, and the Show the Love initiative.

Find an action near you this weekend!

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Notes to Editor:

  1. A report from DARA demonstrated that climate change was responsible for 400,000 deaths per year. 80% of fossil fuels are ‘unburnable’ according to a 2011 report from Carbon Tracker.

  2. A letter published in the Guardian in August 2015 was signed by over 1000 health professionals worldwide.

  3. This week, on 11th January, the Chicago Medical Society voted to divest on health grounds.

  4. A recent analysis by the Guardian of the Wellcome Trust’s investments revealed the Trust to have increased investments in fossil fuels, including the coal mining businesses BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

  5. A Corporate Knights study showed that The Wellcome Trust would have been $353 million better off had it divested in 2012.

  6. The Wellcome Trust recently announced £75 million worth of funding for climate change and health research.

  7. In 2014 the British Medical Association voted to divest from fossil fuels.

  8. The fossil fuel divestment movement is the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen, and so far $3.4 trillion has been divested. with commitments from major universities, pension funds and foundations.

  9. Show the Love is an initiative from the Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to action on climate change and 100% clean energy within a generation. For more information, go to: http://fortheloveof.org.uk/show-the-love-green-hearts/

Contact: for photos, video and quotes – Ellen Gibson, ellen@350.org, 07981277248