Rockefeller family divesting from fossil fuels

The Rockefeller family, whose wealth was built on oil, has made a pledge to divest billions of dollars from the oil, gas and coal mining sectors. Along with other major investors, the Global Divest-Invest coalition on Sunday announced a shift of more than $50 billion from fossil fuels.

Since the divestment movement started in 2011, about 180 institutions and 650 people pledged to divest more than $50 billion from fossil fuels by the end of the decade.

Stephen Heintz, one of the heirs to the Rockefeller fortune, said the move to invest in other sectors that do not exacerbate climate change would have been one of the wishes of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller.

Heintz said:

“We are quite convinced that if he (John D. Rockefeller) 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.”

Pledge to shift from fossil fuels

The movement to divest from fossil fuels is growing rapidly.

Since the beginning of this year, commitments from various individuals and organizations, including pensions funds, hospitals, states, cities, religious organizations and college campuses globally have increased from 74 to 180, according to Arabella Advisors, a consultancy that advises on philanthropic donations.

In May, 2014, Stanford University pledged it would no longer use any of its massive endowment ($18.7 billion) for coal mining activities.

Stanford stands out among the larger colleges in its shift from fossils fuels. Last week, the University of California voted to carry on investing in coal, oil and gas.

In a Commitment Letter, Divest-Invest Philanthropy wrote:

“The escalating climate crisis will impact the programs of all philanthropic institutions, not just those focused on environment and health. While all of philanthropy must consider how climate change will affect our respective missions, we believe grant-making alone will be inadequate to meet the challenge.”

“With this in mind, the undersigned foundations have come together in a new initiative to divest our assets from fossil fuels and to invest in climate solutions and the new energy economy. We invite you to join us.”