Rockefeller Family Fund Divests from ExxonMobil, Fossil Fuel


By MarEx 2016-03-24 19:29:40

The Rockefeller Family Fund has issued a statement announcing its intent to divest from fossil fuels. The process will be completed as quickly as practically possible.

The statement singled out ExxonMobil, as it has been accused of covering up the role of fossil fuels in climate change and interfering in government efforts to take action on global warming, fearing that it would limit the company’s profits.

The fund was founded by relatives of John D. Rockefeller, the co-founder of Standard Oil, and the statement states: “While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense—financially or ethically—to continue holding investments in these companies. There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons. 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.

“We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of ExxonMobil. Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded. 

“Appropriate authorities will determine if the company violated any laws, but as a matter of good governance, we cannot be associated with a company exhibiting such apparent contempt for the public interest.

“To operationalize this decision, the Board has instructed its advisors, effective immediately, to eliminate holdings of ExxonMobil, and all coal, and tar sands-based companies outside the portions of the portfolio managed by third parties, and to keep exposures for these three categories of investment below 1 percent across the entire portfolio. The Family Fund’s Finance Committee will soon be entering the second phase of its divestment work, which will entail seeking suitable alternatives to certain commingled funds now held. The field of Socially Responsible Investing is dynamic and growing and we are confident that a variety of options will soon emerge for mid-sized endowments such as ours.

“Needless to say, the Rockefeller family has had a long and profitable history investing in the oil industry, including ExxonMobil. These are not decisions, therefore, that have been taken lightly or without much consideration of their import. But history moves on, as it must. Indeed, it is past time for all people of good will to do everything in their collective power to make our new path one that recognizes the deep interdependence between humanity’s future and the health of our natural systems.”

ExxonMobil Denies Wrongdoing

ExxonMobil has denied any wrongdoing and has defended its record on climate change. The company states that it has reported information about the business risks posed by climate change for many years in its reports.

The company confirmed has received a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s Office for “documents relating to climate change.” The U.S. Department of Justice has requested that the FBI determine whether an investigation is warranted, but no official investigation has been ordered to date.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.