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Rockefeller Descendants Push For Banks To Stop Financing Fossil Fuel Companies

Chris Katje
·2 mins read

Three heirs of John D. Rockefeller are now pushing against the oil industry that made their namesake family wealthy.

About BankFWD: Daniel Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller co-founded BankFWD.

BankFWD is a “network of individuals and organizations united in the belief that by using our collective wealth and public standing, we can persuade major banks to lead on climate by phasing out financing for fossil fuels.”

The company’s website calls on people to send letters to banks, speak out publicly, invite friends to join the cause and ultimately to transfer to a different bank to reward climate leaders.

Putting Pressure on Banks: Growald and Rockefeller appeared on CNBC Friday to share what they're pushing for.

The pair said talks start with JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM), the bank with the largest financing to the fossil fuel industry. While JPMorgan has committed to funding clean energy, the pair believe the company could have the biggest impact by stopping the finance of fossil fuel companies that do not have a clear plan to transition to clean energy.

Over $65 billion was financed by banks to the fossil fuel industry in 2019. Renewable energy received $22 billion in financing from banks in 2019.

Growald criticized that banks are lending money to fossil fuel companies so they can pay dividends to shareholders and not change their business.

Related Link: Exxon Mobil’s Dividend Yield Hits 10%: What Investors Need To Know

Family Ties to Oil: CNBC’s David Faber asked the pair if they're “biting the hand that feeds you,” referring to how the oil industry gave the family their wealth. Rockefeller believes her family has a moral obligation to help push for clean energy initiatives.

“Ultimate goal is to save the environment,” said Rockefeller, noting the goal is not to bankrupt the oil industry.

John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil Co in 1870, which was eventually split up into many units that make up companies like Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX), BP (NYSE: BP) and Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC)

The Companies Involved: JPMorgan has financed $268 billion to fossil fuel companies over the last four years, according to the Rainforest Action NetworkWells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) financed $198 billion over the last four years. Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) are the other top contributors to the financing of the sector.

Growald highlighted Europe being ahead of the U.S. in terms of renewable energy. BP was highlighted as one company that has made “steps in the right direction” towards clean energy.

If BankFWD gains steam with their push, it could force fossil fuel companies to rethink their business plans going forward. Less financing from banks could also mean dividends in the sector could become under pressure.

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