Skip to main content

Rockefellers pledge to ditch fossil fuel assets

<p>Family that made its fortune from oil wealth becomes highest profile investors yet to join divestment campaign.</p>

The global campaign to encourage investors to divest from fossil fuel assets secured its biggest victory to date Monday when heirs to the Rockefeller family announced their intention to ditch their holdings in fossil fuel companies.

According to various reports, the $860 million Rockefeller Brothers Fund will be amongst a group of high-profile investors to announce they are joining the Global Divest-Invest coalition and committing to ditching fossil fuel assets over the next five years. The announcement was made at an event in New York ahead of the U.N. climate summit of world leaders.

Stephen Heintz, an heir of John D. Rockefeller and president of the fund, told the New York Times that it already had exited investments in tar sands and coal, and was looking to continue its shift towards investing in clean technologies. "We're moving soberly, but with real commitment," he told the paper.

In a separate statement, reported by Reuters, Heintz said that his famous ancestor, John D. Rockefeller, would approve of the transition away from the oil investments that made the family so wealthy. "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," he said.

The latest high-profile commitments follow pledges by a string of universities and religious groups to exit investments in fossil fuel assets.

They also come just a day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu called on political leaders, business executives and activists to replicate the campaign approaches that defeated apartheid by lobbying against those organizations that enable a system that damages the climate. "We can boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil fuel companies; demand that their advertisements carry health warnings; organize car-free days and other platforms to build broader societal awareness; and ask our religious communities to speak out on the issue from their various pulpits," he wrote.

In related news, the Carbon Tracker Institute published a major new report Monday detailing how significant investments in new coal projects faced major financial risks as a result of a predicted reduction in demand over the coming years.

This article originally appeared at Business Green. Oil and gas well image by Calin Tatu via Shutterstock.

More on this topic

Tune in starting at 1:25pm CT for circular economy keynotes and conversations: artificial intelligence, regenerative agriculture, and more.