The heirs to the Rockefeller fortune have stated that they are no longer going to be investing in coal and oil and are dumping all their fossil fuel investments, according to an article in the Guardian. Instead they will be opting for environmentally friendly investments.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and other philanthropists are pledging to divest themselves of over $50 billion (£31 billion) in fossil fuel assets. Over 650 wealthy investors are planning on joining them in a green investment coalition. This all seems to be part of a new trend that started with students and community-driven groups selling off their fossil fuel investments and instead investing in green initiatives. Student bodies, local authorities, pension funds, foundations, faith-based institutions and health-based groups are among many others who are now seriously taking an interest in how environmentally friendly their investments are and aiming to invest for both a good return but also for the public good particularly when it comes to considering the environment.
Without oil, of course, there would be no Rockefeller fortune to pull out of fossil fuel investments and re-invest in more eco-friendly initiatives. The life of John D. Rockefeller was a truly remarkable rags to riches story. He built his first oil refinery near Cleveland on the proceeds of a successful business he started at the age of only 20, and in 1870 incorporated the Standard Oil Company. By 1882 he had a near-monopoly of the oil business in the States but the business practices he used, such as buying up land to prevent competitors from laying oil supply pipelines, eventually led to the passing of antitrust laws in the US.
Once retired Rockefeller embarked on various charitable endeavours and became a highly respected philanthropist helping to fund the University of Chicago to which he gave more than $80 million during his lifetime. He also founded what is now known as the Rockefeller University in New York and the Rockefeller Foundation. In total he donated over $530 million to various good causes so maybe investing in environmentally friendly assets is not such a surprise for the Rockefeller investors.
Whether others follow the Rockefeller lead and invest in green industries like this Solar Panel installation company in Swindon, remains to be seen, although at $50bn this is more than just a symbolic gesture.