In a highly symbolic gesture with real bottom line impact, the Rockefeller family has announced that its eight hundred sixty million dollar philanthropic organization will sell off its assets linked to fossil fuel companies and invest in renewable energy. The Rockefeller fortune was, of course, originally earned from Standard Oil, the first great oil company.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund joins 180 institutions and hundreds of individual investors who have pledged to divest significant dollars, more than fifty billion from group portfolios and more than one billion from individual holdings in oil and gas companies, according to the New York Times. These investments are being pulled out of coal and other environmentally controversial fossil fuel-related developments, such as tar sands oil and shale natural gas, and re-directed to capital-hungry renewable energy startups, such as wind, solar, and hydro power.

Taking on the creation of cleantech and addressing climate solutions by moving investments in this way makes these divestment decisions doubly meaningful. The actual impact may be initially minor, compared to the major oil and gas companies’ huge market capitalizations and large cash flow. Also, divestment is a complex process and can take years to complete. But as a values-driven shift for the long term, it’s a strong signal for investment in the energy of the future.

Article by John Howell

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