Tužili su naftne kompanije jer su znale su da su krive za globalno zatopljenje
U SAD-u je tužitelj države New York Eric Schneiderman pokrenuo istragu protiv američke naftne kompanije Exxon Mobil pod sumnjom da je tvrtka lagala javnosti o rizicima vezanim uz klimatske promjene kao i svojim investitorima o načinu na koji bi ti rizici mogli ugroziti naftni biznis Schneiderman je poziv na sud kompaniji uručio u srijedu navečer prema izvorima The New York Timesa u kojem od njih zahtijeva financijska izvješća, emailove i mnoge druge dokumente. Osim Exxon Mobila, pod istragom se našla i tvrtka Peabody Energy. Priča se zakotrljala prije nekoliko tjedana kada su u javnost procurila istraživanja iz 70-ih godina prošlog stoljeća iz kojih proizlazi da su u Exxonu prikupljali podatke o klimatskim promjenama koje nisu razotkrili javnosti ili svojim dioničarima. Problem za Exxon Mobil predstavlja činjenica da su tijekom proteklih desetljeća itekako bili svjesni rizika vezanih uz klimatske promjene iz internih istraživanja – te su podatke koristili pri formiranju poslovne strategije, kao npr. eventualno vađenje nafte i plina u području Arktika. No, istovremeno su tijekom 90-ih godina i tijekom prve polovice novog milenija financirali grupe koje su nijekale postojanje rizika vezanog uz klimatske promjene. Exxonu su ta istraživanja odgovarala jer su ih podupirala u nastojanju da SAD ne potpiše Protokol iz Kyota o ograničenju emisija stakleničkih plinova. Protokol je potpisan 1997 godine, na snagu je stupio 2006. godine, a SAD ga još uvijek nije ratificirao. Sto devedeset i jedna država u svijetu jest. Financiranje znanstvenika i studija koje niječu postojanje globalnog zagrijavanja i klimatskih promjena općenito, Exxon i druge naftne kompanije u smanjenom obliku rade i danas. Na primjer, u veljači ove godine financirali su istraživanje Wei-Hock Soon sa instituta Smithsonian koje ide kontra etablirane doktrine o velikoj opasnosti koju nose klimatske promjene. Ipak, tijekom desetljeća Exxon je objavljivao mnoga istraživanja koja su se uglavnom poklapala sa zaključcima “mainstreama” klimatskih znanosti. Ključno pitanje će u cijeloj istrazi biti je li Exxon Mobil podijelio saznanja o rizicima veznih uz klimatske promjene čim su do njih došli. Ako su za rizike znali još 70-ih godina, a javno ih u potpunosti priznali tek u posljednjem desetljeću, njihovi investitor sigurno neće biti sretni. Također, postavlja se pitanje da li su i danas razotkrili sve podatke i zaključke do kojih su došli u svojim internim studijama. Neki stručnjaci u ovome vide potencijal za tužbe u iznosima koji se mjere desecima milijarda dolara, poput onih kroz koje su posljednjih desetljeća prolazile velike duhanske kompanije koje su godinama nijekale i zataškavale štetni utjecaj cigareta na zdravlje potrošača. Exxon Mobil smatra se drugom najvrjednijom kompanijom na svijetu iza Applea (procijenjena je na 357 milijardi dolara) te je peti na listi kompanija s najvećim prihodom (394 milijarde prošle godine).
Rockefeller Family Fund Divests from Fossil Fuels and Exxon
March 23, 2016; Reuters
In a letter posted on its website, the Rockefeller Family Fund announced on Wednesday that it would divest from fossil fuels “as quickly as possible,” eliminating its holdings in ExxonMobil Corp., which it called “morally reprehensible.” This is significant in that John D. Rockefeller Sr. made his money running Standard Oil, the company that evolved into ExxonMobil. Thus, by some lights, the fortune that the charitable fund is now divesting was made through that business. But another Rockefeller-associated foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, led the way down this path, divesting in September 2014.
We reprint the Rockefeller Family Fund’s statement in its entirety here:
The Rockefeller Family Fund is proud to announce its intent to divest from fossil fuels. The process will be completed as quickly as possible, as we work around the complications of modern finance, which is increasingly dominated by alternative investments and hedge funds.
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 science and intent enunciated by the Paris agreement cannot be more clear: far from finding additional sources of fossil fuels, we must keep most of the already discovered reserves in the ground if there is any hope for human and natural ecosystems to survive and thrive in the decades ahead.
We would be remiss if we failed to focus on what we believe to be the morally reprehensible conduct on the part of ExxonMobil. Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded. 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.
To operationalize this decision, the Board has instructed its advisors, effective immediately, to eliminate holdings of ExxonMobil, and all coal, and tar sands-based companies outside the portions of the portfolio managed by third parties, and to keep exposures for these three categories of investment below 1 percent across the entire portfolio. The Family Fund’s Finance Committee will soon be entering the second phase of its divestment work, which will entail seeking suitable alternatives to certain commingled funds now held. The field of Socially Responsible Investing is dynamic and growing and we are confident that a variety of options will soon emerge for mid-sized endowments such as ours.
Needless to say, the Rockefeller family has had a long and profitable history investing in the oil industry, including ExxonMobil. These are not decisions, therefore, that have been taken lightly or without much consideration of their import. 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.
Exxon was unsurprised. “The Rockefeller Family Fund provided financial support to InsideClimate News and Columbia University Journalism School, which produced inaccurate and deliberately misleading stories about ExxonMobil’s history of climate research,” it declared. These stories led to an investigation by the New York Attorney General’s office, and now the California AG into whether Exxon had lied to and defrauded the public and shareholders.
Exxon claims those stories “wrongly suggested that we had reached definitive conclusions about the risks of climate change decades before the world’s experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development.”
After 146 years, Rockefeller family is exiting the oil business
Heirs to the oil fortune created by John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard Oil in 1870, are exiting the family business.
The Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity that supports causes related to the environment, economic justice and other issues, is liquidating its investments in fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil (XOM).
"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," the fund said on Wednesday in a statement. "There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons."
The fund, which manages roughly $130 million, said it would immediately divest holdings of Exxon, as well as sell its investments in coal companies and tar sands-based oil producers.
Exxon, the world's second-biggest company, is a descendant of Standard Oil, which was famously broken up in 1911 as part of President Theodore Roosevelt's "trustbusting" campaign.
In announcing its decision, the Rockefeller fund attacked Exxon for what it called the company's "morally reprehensible conduct," alluding to allegations that the company has hidden evidence that fossil fuels contribute to climate change.
"Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change's march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change's destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic's ice receded," the fund said.
Rockefeller family members have long accused Exxon of working to deny the existence of global warming. Former Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller, a great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, in 2006 urged Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to stop funding groups that denied climate change.
In a February op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, an economist and great-grandaughter of John D. Rockefeller, said that in the 1980s the company "began to finance think tanks and researchers who cast doubt on the reliability of climate science."
Exxon denies that it misrepresented the dangers of climate change.
"It's not surprising that they're divesting from the company since they're already funding a conspiracy against us," Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon, said in an emailed statement to CBS MoneyWatch about the Rockfeller fund's announcement.
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is said to have launched an investigation last fall into whether Exxon misled the public and investors about its internal research regarding climate risks. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is also reportedly looking into whether Exxon lied about climate change.
The probes followed a report by InsideClimate News, a non-profit news organization, claiming that Exxon sought to undermine scientific evidence that pointed to the growing threat of climate change.
Jeffers said the Rockefeller Family Fund provided financial support to InsideClimate News, which he said "produced inaccurate and deliberately misleading stories" about the company's climate research.
"The stories wrongly suggested that we had reached definitive conclusions about the risks of climate change decades before the world's experts and while climate science was in an early stage of development," he said. "ExxonMobil believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action."
Exxon critics praised the Rockefeller Family Fund's move to divest its fossil fuel holdings.
"Just like with Big Tobacco before it, the turning point in the movement to end the fossil fuel industry's abuses has come: Influential institutions and people are withholding their investments, and there is a burgeoning movement of attorneys general launching investigations into Exxon to expose the truth and hold it accountable for its lies," said Katherine Sawyer of watchdog group Corporate Accountability International.
© 2016 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.
Dumping fossil fuels was great move for Rockefeller Brothers Fund
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund stunned the world just over a year ago. The foundation that was built on a Big Oil fortune announced that it would no longer invest in fossil fuels.
No more oil, gas, coal or tar sands assets in its $850 million portfolio.
A year later, the move looks especially wise.
Oil prices have plunged from over $90 when the fund made its announcement in September 2014 to $45 now -- the lowest level since the recession.
Big energy stocks have been clobbered. Energy is by far the worst performing sector in the stock market in 2015. Meanwhile, the climate change divestment movement continues to gain momentum. Rockefeller is no longer an outlier.
"We are able to show it can be done," says Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz, "without causing harm to the overall performance of your investment portfolio."
Related: Rockefeller Fund divorces itself from fossil fuels
We're still outperforming our benchmarks
Rockefeller is still doing what every investor wants: beating its benchmarks, although the board acknowledges it's still early days.
The divestment decision was primarily a moral one.
"It became increasingly uncomfortable to be fighting global warming on the one hand [through our charitable grants] and then investing in businesses that cause global warming," says Heintz.
But board members also believe there are legitimate economic reasons to divest.
"People are beginning to see a shorter horizon for the fossil fuel economy," says Heintz. He points to Shell having to abandon drilling in the Arctic after spending a lot of money because it is no longer profitable.
Climate change divestment takes time
Climate change divestment still isn't easy. Heintz gets a lot of calls from other foundations and universities that want to follow Rockefeller's lead. He tells them to prepare for "a journey."
The fund has a large pot of money to invest -- over $800 million. Rockefeller was upfront that it would take three years to fully divest.
In the first year, it was able to get rid of most of its stocks and bonds that had exposure to fossil fuel companies such as Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX).
"Our goal is [eliminating] all fossil fuels, including gas, by the end of 2017," Heintz said. "But we have been clear that we will be closely monitoring performance and will adjust the schedule if necessary and prudent."
He notes the fund had about a 7% exposure to fossil fuels in its portfolio at the start of 2014. Today it has a tad over 4%.
Rockefeller has taken much of that money that was invested in "old energy" and put it to work in "new energy" investments with the help of advisor Perella Weinberg. Call it the "divest-invest" approach to combating climate change.
The hardest part is hedge funds and private equity
The hardest part has been finding hedge fund and private equity managers who can comply with the divestment requirements. They aren't accustomed to special requests.
For example, if Rockefeller pulled its funds from a private equity investment before the lockup period ends, it would lose a lot of money.
But Heintz has been happily surprised at how many managers have been willing to work with the foundation to figure it out. He even got a call from an infrastructure fund in Brazil that saw the 2014 divestment announcement on the front page of a Brazilian newspaper and said they were developing a fossil fuel free fund.
"The decision to divest does send market signals," says Heintz.
Related: Exxon and Chevron profits are down over 50%
Even Wall Street is taking note
Other big investors confirm the trend is catching on, even on Wall Street.
"I just got another email from a hedge fund manager this morning who's trying to assess what the demand is" for fossil fuel divestment, says Jessica Matthews, a managing director at Cambridge Associates, a firm that advises many universities and foundations on their investments.
Matthews works with many clients who want to divest because of environmental, social or governance concerns. She advises clients it could take up to five years to divest fully.
"It's not like flipping a switch," says Matthews.
CNNMoney (New York)