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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Two heavyweight grant-making foundations are pledging new efforts to orient their endowments toward more climate-friendly investments.

Driving the news: The Ford Foundation — one of the nation's largest — said Monday that it will no longer invest in fossil fuels via its $16 billion endowment.

  • The McKnight Foundation, in a separate announcement, said it would achieve "net-zero emissions" across its $3 billion endowment by 2050.

Why it matters: It's part of a wider trend of universities, pension funds and others vowing to pull money out of fossil fuels and adopt investment strategies that help cut emissions.

  • On the foundation side, for instance, the big McArthur Foundation said last month that it's divesting from fossil fuels.

How it works: Ford said its fossil holdings have already fallen over time to 0.3% of its direct investments.

  • 3% of the endowment are indirect "legacy investments" in private equity funds with fossil holdings that Ford vows to wind down. Ford said it would seek out clean energy funds to invest in.

McKnight, meanwhile, said its pledge would mean halting fossil fuel investments and phasing out existing ones "over time."

  • Other parts of the net-zero pledge include expanding the endowment's existing sustainability investing efforts and engaging companies in their portfolio on climate.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The long road to phasing down coal

Expand chart
Data: BP; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Let's leave to history to see whether the COP26 deal to "phase down" coal instead of "phase out" makes any real-world difference, but what's clear is that any meaningful "phasing" at all is hard.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel. Any pathway to meeting the Paris Agreement goals will require huge reductions in global demand that are nowhere in evidence yet.

Biden administration makes first move on data privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights.

Why it matters: An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.

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