Rockefeller Foundation Abandons Fossil Fuels

    Stockholm (NordSIP) – The Rockefeller Foundation announced it would blacklist fossil fuel investments from its US$5 billion endowment. The new policy was adopted by Foundation’s Board of Trustees, prompting the Foundation’s investment team to start taking steps that are expected to more than halve its total exposure to fossil fuels to less than 1% in the near future.

    The Foundation was launched in 1913 by Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller. The Foundation’s original US$100 million endowment was funded by proceeds of Standard Oil, a company that controlled over 90% of petroleum production in the United States at one time. On the endowment side, the Foundation’s exposure to fossil fuels declined from 4% in 2014 to approximately 2% in 2020.

    “JD Rockefeller started this foundation to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world, based on science and innovation. This is still our mission, and since the science is clear on the harm caused by fossil fuels, it was time that we officially aligned our internal investment strategy with our external values and mission,” says Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “This new policy puts The Rockefeller Foundation in line with our sister organization, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and so many other courageous members of the Rockefeller family who have made the point that society needs to rethink growth capital and sustainability for the future. We’re proud to follow in those footsteps.”

    This announcement comes after the Rockefeller Foundation’s October commitment to disburse US$1 billion over the next three years to fund a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the foundations, single largest commitment in its 107-year history.

    “John D. Rockefeller’s philosophy on philanthropy was that scale of impact comes from partnerships, and with this billion-dollar pledge, we intend to do just that – by partnering with others to turn that billion into a mobilizing force for a trillion-dollar inclusive, just, and carbon-reducing global recovery,” Shah adds. “We are also working across the Foundation to bring market-driven solutions that reduce emissions while creating jobs and wealth-building opportunities for those that have been shut out of economic progress and are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.”

    “The endowment’s total private fossil fuel exposure declined in recent years in part because of global energy transition trends and heightened sustainability risks in the sector, but also because we actively narrowed the resources portfolio to less than a handful of managers who place strong focus on ESG integration and avoided dedicated investments in the heaviest emitting fossil fuels,” concludes Chun Lai, The Rockefeller Foundation’s Chief Investment Officer, who is responsible for managing the $5 billion endowment.

    Image by C Morrison from Pixabay

    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe Albuquerque
    Filipe is an economist with 8 years of experience in macroeconomic and financial analysis for the Economist Intelligence Unit, the UN World Institute for Development Economic Research, the Stockholm School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies. Filipe holds a MSc in European Political Economy from the LSE and a MSc in Economics from the University of London, where he currently is a PhD candidate.

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