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The heiress Aileen Getty has donated nearly £500,000 to Extinction Rebellion, claiming “disruption” is necessary for climate action progress.
Ms Getty, 62, is the granddaughter of the oil tycoon J Paul Getty, who became the world’s richest man in 1965.
She said the donation “is not necessarily restitution” for the fortune her family made from oil.
“Whether the resources I have come from oil or not, I feel an urgency and it’s a privilege to give whatever resources you have,” she added.
Ms Getty has pledged $600,000 (£487,000) to the Climate Emergency Fund (CEF) which is funding Extinction Rebellion and other grass roots climate groups.
The CEF donated $350,000 (£283,000) to Extinction Rebellion this week marking its first payment to the group.
Ms Getty told The Times that Extinction Rebellion protests were “now really necessary because it’s evident the public still is not sufficiently engaged”.
She hopes other “high net worth individuals” would join her in pledging money to CEF.
Trevor Neilson, an American businessman and Rory Kennedy, the youngest daughter of former US attorney general Robert Kennedy, are among CEF’s existing donors.
“I think people are still somewhat afraid to fund actions like these – they are afraid of some of the consequences. But I feel very strongly this is all common sense today,” Ms Getty said.
“We all at some level have to answer this to our children and grandchildren: What did you do? If we don’t act [on climate change] we are then complicit because today most of us have the information at our fingertips.”
The oil heiress said she disagrees with the expansion of Heathrow airport.
“We need to be winding stuff back. I would hope that we would start to align policies that are in the interests of our futures,” she continued.
An Extinction Rebellion splinter group, Heathrow Pause, has revealed plans to ground flights from Heathrow from Sept 13 using drones.
Ms Getty’s spokesman later insisted she did not support action that would disrupt flights from Heathrow.
“We would never support anything that [was] involved in trying to close down Heathrow in a way that might be a threat to travellers,” he said.
Citing Greta Thunberg as one of her inspirations, Ms Getty said that while she is “still flying”, she is open to adapting her travelling habits.
“Do I know that fingers will point at me? I do. I am willing to change my lifestyle,” she added.
Swedish activist Greta, 16, last month travelled from Plymouth to New York on a zero-carbon yacht after pledging to no longer fly.
“I have many more things I could let go of and I’m open to doing it,” Ms Getty said. “I’m willing to drop everything that needs to be dropped in order to arrive at a more equitable future for us all.”