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The American family that built the world's biggest oil empire is going green

The American family that built the world's biggest oil empire is going green

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John D. Rockefeller's heirs pledge to sell-off nearly all investments in coal and tar sands by end of 2014

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The name "Rockefeller" is basically synonymous with capitalism and oil, ever since family patron John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1870 and went on to become the first billionaire in American history. Now the heirs of that sizable fortunate are doing a 180: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a philanthropic organization with investments worth $860 million, announced plans today to divest the from the majority its holdings in fossil fuels over the coming years. The fund will begin by reducing its investments in two major polluting energy sources — coal and tar sands — to less than one percent of its entire portfolio by the end of this year, then sell-off any remaining fossil fuel investments "as quickly as is prudent" over the coming years, according to a statement on the fund's website. The fund plans to move more of its money into clean energy investments instead, a notable move given the rapid development of Canada's oil sands in recent years.

Per the leaders of the fund, it's precisely what John D. Rockeller would have wanted. "We are quite convinced that if 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 Rockefeller Brothers Fund president Stephen B. Heintz, according to The Guardian. The announcement was timed to coincide with the UN climate summit happening this week, and sees the Rockefeller Brothers Fund joining a massive global divestment campaign called 350.org launched in 2007 by journalist and environmentalist Bill McKibben. Worldwide, a total of 181 organizations and over 600 individuals with a combined $50 billion-worth of investments have pledged to divest from fossil fuels in the coming years, according to a recent survey.