The Rockefeller Family Fund said Wednesday that it will divest from its fossil fuel holdings and issued a strongly worded condemnation of ExxonMobil.
The fund’s board has directed its advisers to eliminate holdings of ExxonMobil along with all holdings in coal and tar sands-based companies outside the portions of its portfolio managed by third parties.
The board also directed its advisers to keep exposures for those three investment categories to below 1 percent across the fund’s entire portfolio.
The fund intends to complete the divestment “as quickly as possible.”
“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 fund said.
The Family Fund’s Finance Committee will soon be entering the second phase of its divestment work that will entail “seeking suitable alternatives to certain commingled funds now held.”
The fund singled out Exxon for a particularly pointed attack, alluding to media reports that the company used climate data to make operational decisions while working to downplay the science on global warming.
“We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of ExxonMobil,” the fund said.
Exxon has denied any wrongdoing and defended its record on climate change, noting that it has included information about the business risks posed by climate change for many years in its 10-K, Corporate Citizenship Report and in other reports to shareholders.
Exxon vice president of public and government affairs Ken Cohen said in November that the media reports were “inaccurate and deliberately misleading.”
“These activists took those statements out of context and ignored other readily available statements demonstrating that our researchers recognized the developing nature of climate science at the time which, in fact, mirrored global understanding,” Cohen said.
Those reports prompted calls from California legislators for a federal investigation into whether the company violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO.
The U.S. Department of Justice has passed on the request to the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division so that the FBI can determine “whether an investigation is warranted.”
No official investigation has been ordered yet and the FBI is not obligated to begin a probe.
Exxon confirmed in November that it had received a subpoena from the New York Attorney General’s Office for “documents relating to climate change.”
The New York Times reported that month that the New York Attorney General’s Office has been investigating Exxon since 2014 and may be looking into information dating back to the 1970s.
The New York Attorney General’s Office has not commented on the matter.
“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,” the Rockefeller Family Fund said.
Exxon has not commented on the fund’s statement.
The Rockefeller Family Fund was founded by relatives of John D. Rockefeller, the co-founder of Standard Oil.
“Needless to say, the Rockefeller family has had a long and profitable history investing in the oil industry, including ExxonMobil….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,” the fund said.