Rockefellers Divesting Fossil Fuel Investments, Choosing Renewables

It probably says a lot when a foundation run by one of the world’s richest oil families starts divesting from fossil fuel in order to invest in renewable energy.

In a move that will have many investors sit up and take notice, the ABC reports the Rockefeller family have joined in a pledge to divest more than $56 billion of fossil fuel investments to reinvest in clean energy.

“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,” said heir Stephen Heintz  in relation to John D Rockefeller, who made his vast fortune from oil.

The pledge is part of a campaign run by Divest-Invest; which states:

“While moral accountability alone compels us to act, the financial case to divest and invest is no less compelling. There is a growing recognition that if we hope to maintain a livable climate, the majority of fossil fuel reserves now on the world’s books will become stranded, unusable assets.”

Also on Tuesday, the UN’s climate chief questioned whether the pursuit of coal is in Australia’s best interests long term. The UN secretary-general’s climate summit started on Tuesday, but it appears Prime Minister Tony Abbott will not be attending, even though he will be in New York on Wednesday.

The Abbott Government revealed its Energy Green Paper (PDF) on Tuesday. While Australia’s Clean Energy Council cautiously welcomed the contribution to the discussion on the future of Australia’s energy sector; RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson pointed out that in the 78-page document, gas is mentioned 434 times, coal 100 times, nuclear on 67 occasions, storage racked up 32 mentions, solar saw 26, and wind energy just 13 mentions.

“In short, this paper is everything it was expected to be – despite its supposed focus on the future, it is looking in the past rather, completely oblivious to global trends, technology costs and the rapid change in energy systems, not to mention the challenge of reducing emissions,” says Mr. Parkinson.

The Australian Government’s recent shunning of the country’s renewable energy potential is certainly being noticed. In the latest (PDF) Ernst & Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, Australia slipped a place in rankings.