In conjunction with the UN Climate Summit in New York City, Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of endowments and individuals committed to divesting from fossil fuels and investing in clean energy, has announced that assets pledged to the divestment movement have reached the $50 billion mark.
More than six hundred and fifty individuals and a hundred and eighty institutions — including educational, faith-based, and healthcare organizations; local governments; and fifty new foundations in addition to the seventeen that signed on to the campaign in January — have committed to divesting from fossil fuels over five years. New signatories to the campaign include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, whose original endowment comes from wealth generated by the creation and operation of the Standard Oil Company. On Monday, the fund announced that it plans to reduce investments in coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions, to less than 1 percent of its total portfolio by the end of the year and will undertake a comprehensive analysis to formulate a strategy for further divestment out of fossil fuel investments over the next few years.
"John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil, moved America out of whale oil and into petroleum," said RBF president Stephen Heintz. "We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy."
Other foundations that have joined the campaign, which began on college campuses three years ago, include the Blumenthal, Garfield, John & Marcia Goldman, and Laird Norton Family foundations, as well as Trust Africa. To date, philanthropic assets divested or pledged to be divested from fossil fuel investments account for 8 percent of the $50 billion total, or $4.1 billion, according to a report from Arabella Advisors, with governments and educational institutions accounting for 48 percent and 38 percent, respectively.
"Climate change is the human rights challenge of our time," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leading advocate of the movement. "We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow."