Rockefeller divestment is shameless climate summit eyewash

By |2014-09-25T15:19:06+00:00September 25th, 2014|CFACT Insights|9 Comments

The timing was perfect. Monday was the day after many noisy climate marches around the world, and the day before President Obama’s pointless pep talk at the United Nations Climate Summit, so the Rockefeller Brothers Fund chose it to announce its “divestment from fossil fuels.”

Remarkably, the dry 500-word statement on their Website drew wide notice – the Rockefeller name, probably. RBF, as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund is known in the philanthropy business, is overshadowed by the better-known Rockefeller Foundation, so why release this expression of their climate piety to a world that knew them only vaguely if at all?

Is RBF’s divestment from the energy source that keeps America running financially significant? We should be able to find out because the Fund is a private foundation, meaning that all its investments are public information under the law and must be shown on its annual IRS Form 990-PF. What does it say?

A lot of nothing, really: RBF has its $700.2 million portfolio invested in 52 commingled investment funds and 50 limited partnerships that don’t have to reveal their investments and trades, so even RBF itself doesn’t know from day to day whether fossil fuel shares might be in them.

RBF directors can instruct their key investment management contractor, Investure LLC – which has $487.9 million of the total $700 million invested in five of its own funds – to dump fossil fuel holdings, but that would require a very cautious, very slow process so board members could make sure they don’t violate their fiduciary trust to keep the Fund solvent.

RBF’s visible investments in fossil fuel limited partnerships – both of them, Natural Gas Partners VIII and NGP Energy Technology Partners – were sold off in 2012 as dead weight, costing RBF a net capital loss of $49,000. At the same time, RBF also dumped its three biofuel investments at a loss over a million dollars.

Nothing indicates anything else solid to divest, but there could be hundreds of millions tucked in there and nobody would know.

With such an underwhelming picture emerging from the details behind RBF’s divestment announcement, why didn’t the Fund brag about its leading role in creating the climate issue to destroy fossil fuels in the first place?

No tar sands demonstrationFirst, the public hasn’t a clue how ferociously RBF has been wrecking fossil fuel industries by funding politically ambitious climate advocates. Maybe RBF doesn’t want the public to know, given crumbling climate science and vanishing world concern about global warming. But beginning when the Fund was established in 1940 by the six grandchildren of Standard Oil mogul John D. Rockefeller, RBF has poured billions into the broad environmental movement, becoming its biggest single donor from the 1950s into the 1990s.

In 1984, under its program titled “One World: Sustainable Resource Use,” RBF began campaigning specifically against fossil fuel industries with huge grants to promote climate change ideology. RBF sponsored climate scientists’ workshops in Europe in 1985 and 1987; it co-funded the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988, donated to the IPCC trust fund and kept very busy giving grants for the 1992 Earth Summit to push an anti-fossil fuel treaty package.

In 2008, RBF launched an incredible $7 million per year death-blow campaign against Alberta oil sands (“tar sands”) with the strategy, “Raise the Negatives, Raise the Costs, Slow Down and Stop Infrastructure, and Enroll Key Decision-Makers,” as shown in a leaked PowerPoint presentation by Fund program manager Michael Northrop, posted here as an easy-to-view pdf.

The sheer malice and unconcern about the economic impact of the anti-oil sands campaign is breathtaking, and has shocked many viewers.

RBF also funded the launch and growth of Bill McKibben’s, leader of the divestment campaign, with $800,000, including  a 2012 gift of $225,000. There’s much more at

But to the question of why the Rockefeller Brothers Fund made its “divestment from fossil fuels” statement when it did: The last paragraph in the announcement suggested that RBF’s plans and experience “will be of interest to other foundations and institutional investors” – because they had arranged a press conference where such investors showed up and “pledged” to also divest. It was rigged.

RBF wants everyone else to divest the energy source that keeps America running – perhaps even those with something visible to divest.


  1. bigBlueCarbonDotCom September 25, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Give it away. Or better yet, buy some of our cabon offsets:

  2. kuhnkat September 25, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    They may have also known the media would make no efforts to disabuse the ignorant public that it wasn’t the Rockefeller Fund that was divesting also!! I didn’t know until I read your article!! Thanks!

  3. zn September 26, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    A managed fund from the Rockefeller family divests in fossil fuels. The President of the United States makes a speech at the United Nations that promotes clean energy. And hundreds of thousands of people march to promote pro-climate change action, all in the same week. And you’re still trying to argue that’s it’s all just a conspiracy and no one ‘really’ believes in global warming…

    You guys really, really, need to get out more.

    • megapotamus September 26, 2014 at 4:43 PM

      It’s astro-turf, pal. And in any case, no, there is no global warming to believe in.

      • zn September 26, 2014 at 6:01 PM

        Err, actually it is the exact opposite of astroturf. Astroturfing involves setting up an ersatz grassroots campaign using ‘people level’ media – blogs, social media, newsletters etc. Astroturf is fake grassroots.

        Obama, The UN and the Rockerfellers are completely at the other end of the spectrum. They are at the top looking down. They don’t need a fake grassroots campaign because they have direct access to the best, most current information and base their decisions on that, not the flat out propaganda that fills CFACT.

        • hubwolf September 27, 2014 at 5:27 AM

          They are rent seekers. Their argument is 1.) there is global warming (disputable). 2.) this global warming is man made (also disputable even if one believes warming is taking place and 3.) we can fix this by taxing the citizens of developed countries and transferring that wealth to others, essentially killing the economies of countries that are at least trying to limit pollution. I am all in favor of using energy more efficiently and developing other potential low cost forms of energy. Take nuclear fusion for example. Vast quantities of cheap clean energy would be attainable and suddenly the markets for natural gas and heating oil go way down. Any idea how hard this administration (that has been so fond of wind and solar scams) has been funding research and development for fusion? I would guess it’s less than what they gave to their pals at Solyndra. We don’t have problem solvers in our current leadership. We have opportunists.

          • zn September 28, 2014 at 8:50 AM

            Solyndra failed. Get over it. Failure is baked into American capitalism. For every Solyndra there is a Tesla Motors, who paid back their $465 million loan nine years early. The renewable energy market is now maturing to a point where new wind and solar plants are increasingly being funded completely by private capital investment. The government’s initial financial support was simply a means of promoting economic growth.

            If nuclear fusion, which still isn’t beyond the experimental testing phase, could be deployed today, for approximately the same cost as new wind and solar, then maybe you’d have a legitimate argument. But that’s not the case, and as wind and solar costs continue to drop year-on-year, the multitude benefits of renewable energy continue to grow stronger.

            That’s why big banks like Morgan Stanley are putting their support behind renewables, while simultaneously warning of the financial risks of investing in new fossil fuel plants, given the uncertain long-term prospects for positive economic return.

            • hubwolf September 28, 2014 at 1:15 PM

              I would hope that you could appreciate the difference between taxpayers funding research vs taxpayers funding a business, which is the proper role of private investment. Yes, failure is part of the creative destruction of capitalism however there is a huge difference between capital that is voluntarily risked by private investors vs the situation at these “green energy” scams like Solyndra which were largely nothing more than payments for political support.

          • Scottar October 2, 2014 at 2:49 AM

            There has been global warming. There where 4 climate maximums in the current climate optimum which runs for about 10,000 years. There where 7 ice ages before the present climate optimum. Thing is that most of these periods had stretches that where warmer then present and there was no spewing of CO2 levels by any humanoids nor volcanoes that equal today’s levels.

            So the warming must be natural and no really linked to CO2 levels.

            Thing is we are nearing the end of the present climate optimum period and most likely facing another ice age in the next 100 or so years. But the alarmists BSers just don’t see that coming.

            And there where consistent failure by the Obama administration of renewable investments. It this administration wasn’t involved they would have never even got off the proposal board.:


            Obama’s Green-Energy, Crony-Corruption
            Sept 21, 2012- Marita Noon


            Apr 14, 2012 By Paul Driessen
            “Greenbacks” Energy Boondoggles Versus Real Energy


            Corruption Beyond Our Imaginations
            by Joseph Farah

            And the Rockefellers just don’t do things that benefit their fellow humans. The best way to implement a nefarious agenda is through deception:


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