The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and "eliminate holdings" of Exxon Mobil Corp., saying the oil company associated with the family fortune has misled the public about climate change risks.
The U.S.-based charity will also divest its coal and Canadian oil sands holdings. Though the endowment has a modest $130 million in total assets, the move is notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil.
Given the threat posed to the survival of human and natural ecosystems, "there is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons," the fund said.
Asked about the Rockefeller fund, Exxon said in a statement: "It's not surprising that they're divesting from the company" given their opposition to fossil fuels.
In response to the divestment movement, many oil industry leaders have argued that millions of people in the developing world would be condemned to darkness and poverty if society halted the burning of fossil fuels anytime in the next several decades, before there is an ample supply of cleaner energy sources.
Shares of Exxon were down 0.47 percent at $83.74 each on a day when oil prices were slipping and U.S. stock indexes were also down slightly.
The Rockefeller fund did not detail the size of its fossil fuel holdings or holdings of Exxon stock.
In a letter posted on its website, the Rockefeller Family Fund said Exxon's conduct on climate issues appears to be "morally reprehensible."
In November, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched an investigation into whether Exxon misled the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change.
At the time, the company said it has included information about the business risk of climate change for many years in its quarterly filings, corporate citizenship report and in other reports to shareholders.
Exxon Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson has openly talked about the reality of climate change. The company has said it has constructively contributed to climate research for years.
As early as 2008, members of the Rockefeller family called on Exxon to make governance changes and increase spending on alternative fuels.
In late 2014, another fund associated with the family, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), and several other philanthropies and non-governmental organizations said they would divest from fossil fuel-related investments.
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