Rockefellers Join the Fossil Fuel Divestment Trend

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post

A surprising new group of people has decided to join the fossil fuel divestment trend: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Yes, that’s right. One of the oldest, richest families in the country, whose unimaginable wealth was made from working in the oil industry, has announced it will take its $860 million philanthropic organization elsewhere.

The announcement came at the start of the United Nations climate change summit in New York City this week.  The Rockefeller’s plan is to divest from coal and tar-sands mining, and put that extra money to use elsewhere, mainly funding sustainable development projects. Last year, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave more than $6 million in grants to such projects. However, that was far from the first time the organization donated to sustainable projects. During the 1980s, members of the family donated $2 million to fund renewable-energy alternatives. Although the fund proved unsuccessful at the time, now the family can seek redemption on the matter through its divestment strategy.

Despite the origin of their wealth, the Rockefellers clearly have a strong sense of ethics, which is fueling the decision to divest. Steven Rockefeller, son of Nelson Rockefeller and trustee of the fund, said, “We see this as having both a moral and economic dimension.”

In addition to the Rockefellers, 50 other groups have also agreed to divest from nearly 200 major oil and gas companies. In all, the various groups have pledged to divest more than $50 billion in assets from portfolios and individuals worth more than $1 billion.

Divestment in the very industry that made them wealthy proves the Rockefellers aren’t your typical rich, white, American family (ahem, the Koch brothers). They clearly have an understanding about the dangers that lie ahead due to fossil fuels. So, let’s hope at their next dinner party, their other millionaire/billionaire friends decide to join the club and divest from fossil fuels as well!



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