We spend a lot of time talking about how countries and companies are failing to make any progress towards abandoning fossil fuels and rectifying their greenhouse gas emissions status, without necessarily paying attention to those stories of companies and countries that do make some progress. Sure, we’ve spent a lot of time lately looking at China and India’s growth, but those stories can’t be taken away from the recent news that new data on carbon shows China’s emissions per head of population has passed the European Union for the first time.
So, in my routine morning search for news, I came across two stories which I thought I would pin together to make myself feel better about big-business.
Maybe they’ll make you feel a bit better too.
Rockefeller Fund Abandons Fossil Fuels
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, founded by David Rockefeller and John D. Rockefeller in the 1940s and which was built firmly on the tremendous wealth of their great-grandfather’s Standard Oil Company, announced Monday that they would be selling their fossil fuel energy investments in a move they hope will pressure companies to do likewise.
“We are immediately divesting from coal and tar sands, the most carbon intensive fuels,” said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, according to Bloomberg.
The Fund has initiated a two-step process to divest itself from investments in fossil fuels — the first step of which intends to limit its exposure to coal and tar sands, with a goal to reduce these investments to less than one percent of the total portfolio by the end of this year.
In 2010 the Fund announced approval of a commitment that up to 10% of the endowment should be focused on support for clean energy technologies “and other business strategies that advance energy efficiency, decrease dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigate the effects of climate change.” This latest announcement is one step “to better align its endowed assets” with this mission.
“It’s not a huge economic lever, but it does begin to send financial signals and it brings visibility to the issue,” Heintz said in an interview. “This is like a snowball, and it’s going to get more and more mass as it rolls forward.”
Coal India Plans Solar Future
From the moment I read Bloomberg’s headline — “Coal India Said to Plan Building $1.2 Billion of Solar Projects” — this story made me smile. There is nothing better, in my opinion, than ironic company-names.
“People familiar with the plan” have suggested that India’s biggest producer of coal is considering building $1.2 billion worth of solar projects in an effort to compensate for carbon pollution. According to these unnamed sources, Coal India is in talks with India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy for a combined capacity of 1 GW.
Coming on the wake of a number of clean energy stories originating out of India, this news is arguably proof that the country’s clean-energy direction is forcing companies to rethink their own strategies moving forward.