John D. Rockefeller’s heirs are pulling their money out of fossil fuel investments and going green.
John D. Rockefeller’s name has passed into legend. Synonymous with his massive oil wealth, he has become an almost mythical figure in the history of the US. So it’s all the more significant and symbolic that his heirs are going green.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the $860 million charity organisation run by the family, has announced it is joining the movement to divest from its investments in fossil fuels.
It plans to reduce investments in coal and tar sands to below one per cent of its total investment portfolio by the end of the year and is working on plans to divest the rest as quickly as it can in the coming years. With a complex investment portfolio, that is likely to take quite some time.
It has been working on plans to “better align its endowed assets with its mission” for the past four years, the fund says, since it committed up to a tenth of its endowment to investments that contributed to the goals of its Sustainable Development programme.
Green energy, mitigating the effects of climate change and energy efficiency are key parts of this strategy, although the charity also invests in areas such as peacebuilding and “democratic practice” where it can.
This week’s announcement was timed to coincide with the UN climate change summit opening yesterday (23 September), but it is also intended to build momentum for the Global Divest-Invest initiative.
Since it was launched a few years ago, the movement has been bolstered with the support of pension funds, religious groups and major universities who have all promised that they will divest themselves of their fossil fuel assets and reinvest in clean technology.
Very few of those involved in the movement expect their divestments to have an immediate impact on companies, the New York Times reports. But Donald P Gould, president of Gould Asset Management, told the news provider that divesting tried to indirectly influence the firms simply by “changing the conversation about the climate”.
The Rockefeller family tried to pioneer green investment as far back as the 1980s, only for the scheme to fall flat. They may have been ahead of their time, but it seems they’ve finally been able to pick their moment.
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