Grantham Foundation Background

Grantham Founder Invests in Oil but Pushes Climate Agenda

By Aly Nielsen

Jeremy Grantham wants to have it all. While his investment firm invests in oil companies, he funds climate change groups.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment was founded in Jeremy Grantham and his wife Hannelore in 1997. Grantham is an investment strategist whose firm owns stock in energy companies including ExxonMobil, BP and Shell. Meanwhile his foundation gives millions of dollars to environmental groups like Environmental Defense Fund, 350.org and Columbia University.

Grantham was born and raised in England. He co-founded the global investment management firm GMO in 1977, and serves as its chief investment strategist. He began his career as an economist for the oil and gas company, Royal Dutch Shell.

In spite of that, Business Insider executive editor Gus Lubin called Grantham the “world’s greatest environmentalist” in 2011. “A cynic might argue that Grantham would profit from his disaster scenario coming true, but we can’t believe anyone wants the apocalypse,” Lubin hypothesized.

According to The Guardian, “Grantham insists his substantial investments in oil and gas don’t contradict his green views.”

“We need oil. If we took oil away tomorrow, civilisation ends,” Grantham said in 2013. Nevertheless, the groups Grantham Foundation funds, like 350.org and Columbia University, are militant against oil companies.

In 2015 alone, The Grantham Foundation donated $22 million, largely to environmental groups including $3.3 million to the Energy Foundation, $2.5 million to Environmental Defense Fund and $1 million to League of Conservation Voters. It also gave to 350.org and Columbia University. Grantham Foundation also ended 2015 with $406 million in assets, according to its 990 tax forms.

The Grantham Foundation has no board of directors and the trustees are all members of Grantham’s immediate family. All grantmaking is overseen by one person, Ramsay Ravenel, who has been the foundation’s executive director since 2009. The foundation “reviews grant proposals by invitation only,” Inside Philanthropy explained in 2014.

The Grantham Foundation trustees include Jeremy Grantham’s wife Hannelore and their children Isabel Grantham Rappoport, Oliver and Rupert.

Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham are both Advisory trustees and former board members of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). Rappoport is a former EDF employee.

Both Jeremy Grantham and Rappoport opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline when it was first proposed. Grantham even planned to attend a DC protest and “was committed to getting arrested,” he told The Guardian in 2013. The day before the protest he chose not to go on the advice of his lawyer.

Rappoport attended and was arrested alongside climate activist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. Rappoport continued to fight the Keystone pipeline, and tweeted “thankful #KeystoneXL has finally been rejected!” in November 2015.

Rupert Grantham meanwhile works as a consulting forester for Walden Forest Conservation, an organization that manages local forests “managed for long-term forest health.”

Grantham Foundation has donated to numerous nonprofit media outlets, including Media Matters, National Public Radio and Grist.