The Rockefeller family, whose legendary fortune was made by oil, announced that its $860 million philanthropic foundation is joining the divestment movement and abandoning fossil fuels.
The announcement came just in time for the United Nations climate change summit which starts today in New York City. The summit is part of a broadening divestment initiative in which people commit to selling shares of energy stocks. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has already eliminated investments involving coal and tar sands, and now, along with a coalition of other philanthropists, are pledging to rid themselves of more than $50 billion in fossil fuel assets.
Rockefeller Brothers Fund director Stephen Heintz said the move to divest from fossil fuels would be in line with oil tycoon John D Rockefeller’s wishes.
“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.
The Rockefellers’ decision to sell investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy, also coincided with the People’s Climate March, where hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets in more than 2,000 locations worldwide. An estimated 300,000 people, including Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon, and Bill de Blasio, marched for urgent action on climate change and curbs on carbon emissions in New York. The slightly less popular “Flood Wall Street” protests got underway the next day, with nearly one thousand demonstrators hitting Wall Street to protest the financial sector’s role in promoting investments in planet-polluting industries.
Perhaps the Rockefellers were just looking to avoid the wrath of the thousands of environmental activists. Or, more likely, the oil baron heirs are simply interested in controlling green energy the same way they controlled oil back in the day. There’s nothing quite like making a huge profit while appearing ultra philanthropic!