SOME might have called it a strange investment. Just as the worst of the credit crunch was hitting home last year Jeremy Grantham decided to bet £12m that economists could save the world.
The British financier, who founded the Boston-based investment fund GMO, which has £55 billion under its management, gave the money to the London School of Economics (LSE) to fund an institute for researching the economics of climate change. A similar amount went to Imperial College London to study climate science.
Altogether, the £24m is one of the largest donations ever made to climate research. It is an area that has so far been spectacularly ignored by other private philanthropists. So why did Yorkshire-born Grantham do it?
“Because climate change is turning into the biggest problem humanity has ever faced. I wanted to invest my money in places where it might actually help tackle that problem,” said the financier last week, speaking exclusively to The Sunday Times about his donation.
The words sound apocalyptic — but who is he? Most of us have not heard of him but in financial circles Grantham, a British émigré, is known for his investment skills.
What he is renowned for, however, is being one of the few big investors to have publicly predicted the collapse of the American and British property markets, and the global credit crunch that followed.
Not many believed him back in 2006 — and even fewer may want to believe his latest predictions. Because Grantham believes climate change could lead to the collapse of Earth’s ecosystems and even threaten human civilisation.
So concerned is Grantham, 70, over this issue that he has set up the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, endowed with £165m of his own money, to fund environmental research and campaigns. From it he is funding the LSE and Imperial donations, and other grants to American groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund....MORE