Rockefeller Foundation Will Dump Investments in Fossil Fuels

The Rockefeller family's charitable arm is joining the growing divestment movement, and investing in cleaner energy alternatives.

Rockefeller Foundation Will Dump Investments in Fossil Fuels Photo (cc) by Pat Hawks

The Rockefeller fortune was built on oil, but the family’s charitable arm is joining a growing group of investors that are ditching fossil fuels and investing in alternative energy sources.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, an $860 million private charitable foundation, announced Monday, just one day before the opening of the United Nations climate change summit in New York City, that because of its “deep commitment to combating climate change,” it was divesting investments in fossil fuels. Said a statement from the Rockefeller foundation:

Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions. We are working to eliminate the Fund’s exposure to these energy sources as quickly as possible.

The Rockefeller foundation committed to reducing its investment in coal and tar sands to less than 1 percent of its total portfolio by the end of 2014. The foundation said it would analyze the remainder of its investments and determine if further divestment in fossil fuels is required.

The Rockefeller fund is one of more than 180 groups, as well as hundreds of individual investors, that are committed to selling assets linked to fossil fuels and investing in sustainable energy alternatives, The New York Times said. While the groups have pledged to divest more than $50 billion in fossil fuel investments, individuals have pledged an additional $1 billion.

The Times said the investors recognize that their actions won’t have an immediate impact on energy companies.

Some say they are taking action to align their assets with their environmental principles. Others want to shame companies that they believe are recklessly contributing to a warming planet. Still others say that the fight to limit climate change will lead to new regulations and disruptive new technologies that will make these companies an increasingly risky investment.

According to Reuters, Rockefeller foundation president Stephen Heintz said he thinks Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller would applaud the foundation’s efforts.

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Heintz said in a statement.

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