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  • RTNF Board

RTNF Divests from Fossil Fuels, and Sets Goals to Minimize its Own Fossil Fuel Use

Updated: May 2, 2022

The Board at RTNF approved the following pledge at our 3rd quarter board meeting of 2015:

At RTNF we’re proud to have joined over 100 fellow philanthropies in signing the DivestInvest Philanthropy Pledge, and in divesting our assets from fossil fuels (and industries heavily reliant on fossil fuels). We have signed the pledge because it is the right thing to do, for all the reasons listed in the DivestInvest Commitment Letter, and because it feels good.

But let’s be honest. Divesting our assets is a mere moral gesture; it has no real impact on how much fuel is going to be extracted. No one at any oil company is shaking in their boots saying, “oh no, the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation has divested, let’s stop drilling.”

The truth is, our greatest investment in fossil fuels is our USE of fossil fuels. As long as we continue paying for fossil fuels, or for the products and services reliant on fossil fuels, the industry will continue to extract fossil fuels. Every time we fill up our tank, air-condition our giant office or house, or buy a plane ticket, we’re investing in fossil fuels. Because of this collective investment in the fossil fuel industry, Earth’s supplies of fossil fuels are being consumed 100,000 times faster than they are being formed.

It’s easy to divest investments (in fact, fossil fuel investments are currently poor performers) but hard to really divest by weaning ourselves from our own, personal fossil fuel addictions

Earth’s supplies of fossil fuels are being consumed 100,000 times faster than they are being formed. At the Ray & Tye Noorda Foundation, our goal is to make the world better without making it worse. And so, in addition to the DivestInvest Pledge, we have pledged to examine our own foundation and personal operations with the goal of continuing to do just as much good in the world but without frivolous use of fossil fuels. This shows up in small, symbolic ways, such as turning off equipment when not in use; in more substantive decisions, such as nearly eliminating our long-distance travel to conferences and grantee sites; and in our most import work: “Overall fossil-fuel repercussions” is now an important criteria in our matrix of determining where our grant dollars go.

We can’t do so in such a way that harms that world.

We encourage other foundations to join us in signing the DivestInvest Philanthropy Pledge. We encourage all non-profits seeking RTNF grants to consider how much of their funds are actually used for fossil fuels instead of being used for making the world better. And we encourage all people, everywhere, to make the most important and most difficult divestment of all: stop using fossil fuels.

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