Rockefeller Foundation adopts net zero pledge for $6bn endowment
The New York City-based Rockefeller Foundation confirmed it will target net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for its endowment by 2050, making it the largest private US foundation to date to pursue a net zero endowment.
In addition to reducing net GHG emissions in its approximately $6 billion endowment, Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, confirmed that his organisation plans to roll out a number of initiatives aimed at accelerating "the work needed to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement."
To start with, Shah said he plans to convene investors, peers, and experts to advance "a broader collaboration towards net zero, with the first event to take place in early 2024."
He added: “We are putting our money where our mission is. This change to our endowment strategy aligns with our recent billion-dollar commitment to advance the global climate transition and achieve net zero emissions across our global operations, and it is the final piece of our work to reimagine the foundation’s philanthropy for the climate change era.”
The foundation's new policy comes after the foundation's 2020 commitment to divest its endowment from existing fossil fuel interests while refraining from all future fossil fuel investments.
The foundation’s philanthropic history began in 1913 with an original endowment of $100 million from John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, which, at one point, controlled around 90% of petroleum production in the U.S.
The foundation's new strategy centres on engagement with asset managers and others on data, disclosures, and decarbonization plans, Shah stressed.
Also, investment in climate solutions and other climate-focused strategies and influencing by leading convenings and advancing collaboration, standards, best practices, and shared learning will be a vital part of the foundation's new course, he stressed.
In addition, Shah said the new climate strategy for the endowment is also grounded in a number of core principles, including prioritising real-world change and accountability.
"By focusing on approaches that can be deployed at scale today, as well as technologies expected to scale in 15-20 years, to reduce carbon emissions of the businesses and countries in which the foundation invests," he explained.
For Shah, it is vital to "be pragmatic."
He said that "by deploying a pragmatic approach, one that recognizes varied roles for each asset class, investment manager, and investment vehicle, prioritizes progress over perfection, and maximizes existing levers of influence in the investment industry, to make impact quickly and efficiently."
This new net zero endowment policy aligns The Rockefeller Foundation’s internal investment strategy with its external commitment to spend around $1 billion over the next five years to advance the global climate transition "and help ensure everyone can participate in it," as Shah put it.