Rockefeller Brothers Fund evaluates cleantech and sustainability investments

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The $860m Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) is evaluating a range of sustainable investments that will address greenhouse gas emissions, as it looks to reduce its exposure to fossil fuels to less than one per cent, vice president of Finance and Operations, Geraldine Watson, told Clean Energy Pipeline.

Last month, the RBF announced it would divest a significant volume of its investments in fossil fuels and reinvest the capital in clean energy, which is particularly significant as the Rockefeller family initially made its fortune in the oil industry.

RBF aims to reduce its exposure to coal and tar sands – two of the most carbon-intensive fuels – to less than one per cent of the fund’s total portfolio by the end of 2014.

‘We are now embarking on a deeper analysis of our holdings in other fossil fuel investments and will then be developing a strategy with our investment committee and trustees for the next steps for further divestment,’ Watson said.

The fund hired independent advisory and asset management firm Perella Weinberg Partners (PWP) as its outsourced chief investment manager in February, according to Watson.

‘We have been working closely with them to transition the management of the endowment and to integrate programmatic considerations into our investment strategies,’ she said. ‘This will take some time to fully assess and develop across the whole portfolio.’

The fund has earmarked 10 per cent of its assets for investments consistent with the goals of its sustainable development programme, which aims to make ‘ecologically based, economically sound, socially just, and culturally appropriate’ investments, according to the fund’s website.

‘The RBF has exposure to clean technology through actively managed public and private mandates,’ Watson said. ‘In addition, the fund has a 10 per cent target for impact investments that align with the organisation’s mission and programmatic activities. PWP has emphasised sustainable investments, to include clean technology, within its diligence on impact investments, but will also consider a range of other strategies that align with the RBF’s mission.’

Those investments are likely to support clean energy technologies and other business strategies that advance energy efficiency, decrease dependence on fossil fuels, and mitigate the effects of climate change, according to RBF’s divestment statement. Watson said that the fund is considering a range of technologies and investment strategies, across a variety of geographies, but declined to disclose how much the fund will invest in clean technology or sustainability.

This article originally appeared on a clean energy news service operated by VB Research, a sister publication to The Engineer.