The Rockefeller family name is deeply embedded in the story of fossil fuel-led economic development. Indeed John D. Rockefeller became one of the richest men in the world thanks to Standard Oil. But that doesn't mean that his descendants are going to be constrained to the old models of economic development.
Indeed the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF) has just announced that it will be divesting its $130m holdings from all oil, coal, and gas companies as quickly as possible. The reason, said the group in a statement, is pretty simple:
"The science and intent enunciated by the Paris agreement cannot be more clear: far from finding additional sources of fossil fuels, we must keep most of the already discovered reserves in the ground if there is any hope for human and natural ecosystems to survive and thrive in the decades ahead."It might be a mistake, however, to assume that this concern about climate change is purely an ethical one. As I have argued many times before, there is a strong economic case to be made for ditching fossil fuels before they become essentially worthless—which may well happen as we get increasingly serious about leaving reserves untapped.
And while the Rockefellers will no doubt receive accusations of hypocrisy from those who can't believe you can make money from oil and understand that the world moves on, it's worth noting that RFF helped found the Just Transition Fund to provide assistance to communities impacted by coal mine and power station closures.
And if all this sounds familiar, that's because it is. Another Rockefeller charity—the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation—has also pledged to divest its holdings from all fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, The Guardian is reporting that Global investments in coal and gas fell to less than half that in clean energy. Anyone see where this is all heading?