Rockefeller Foundation Sets Sights on 2050 Net Zero with $6B Endowment Goal

"The Rockefeller Foundation Leads the Charge Towards Net Zero Emissions, Sets Ambitious Target for $6 Billion Endowment by 2050"

The Rockefeller Foundation, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, UAE, has announced its commitment to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for its $6 billion endowment by 2050. This makes it the largest private U.S. foundation to pursue such a target. Following in the footsteps of institutions like Harvard University, which pledged to reach net zero emissions for its endowment by the same deadline, the Rockefeller Foundation aims to drive significant decarbonization efforts.

Three years ago, The Rockefeller Foundation made a commitment to divest from fossil fuels and has since pledged $1.5 million to a global initiative supporting developing countries’ transition to clean energy. Now, the foundation is focusing on pushing for greater decarbonization through direct investments and influence. Chin Lai, the foundation’s Chief Investment Officer, emphasized that the move goes beyond their endowment, stating, “Because net zero is a collective goal… we will encourage our fund managers to engage with companies on emissions reduction plans, invest in climate solutions, and use our convening power to advance net zero adoption among investors.”

The foundation has outlined three strategies to extend its net zero influence. First, it will work with money managers who can have a significant impact on decarbonization efforts. Second, it will directly invest $1 billion in companies offering climate change solutions over the next five years. Third, it will establish benchmarks to measure progress and share them with other investors, aiming to encourage wider participation in their efforts.

The new strategy centers around maintaining the endowment’s role in providing sustainable funding for The Rockefeller Foundation’s global initiatives. It focuses on engaging with asset managers and other stakeholders on data, disclosures, and decarbonization plans. The strategy also emphasizes investments in climate solutions and other climate-focused strategies. The foundation aims to exert influence by organizing influential gatherings, advancing collaboration, setting standards, promoting best practices, and fostering shared learning.

The net zero strategy for the $6 billion endowment is based on five core principles: prioritizing real-world change, being pragmatic, learning continuously, maintaining accountability, and leading by example. The foundation recognizes the need to prioritize scalable approaches and technologies expected to scale in the next 15-20 years. It also acknowledges the diverse roles of asset classes, investment managers, and vehicles in achieving net zero. The foundation commits to promoting transparency and regularly sharing progress to uphold accountability. Finally, it plans to organize stakeholder gatherings and leverage its influence and voice in the investment industry and philanthropic institutions.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s philanthropic journey began in 1913 with an initial endowment of $100 million from John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. Over the past 110 years, the foundation has invested $26 billion in philanthropic capital. In 2020, the foundation committed to divesting its endowment from existing fossil fuel interests and abstaining from future investments in fossil fuels. The new net zero endowment policy aligns the foundation’s internal investment strategy with its commitment to spend over $1 billion to drive the global climate transition.

As part of its comprehensive climate strategy, the foundation aims to achieve a net zero standard for its facilities. This includes its headquarters in New York City and operational sites in Washington, D.C.; Nairobi, Kenya; Bangkok, Thailand; Bellagio, Italy; and other areas worldwide. The foundation has completed an assessment of its carbon footprint for the baseline year of 2022, revealing an estimated annual emission of 12,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases across its operations. The roadmap to net zero is still being finalized and will be completed in early 2024.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s goal extends beyond establishing targets and strategies for reducing carbon emissions. It also aims to collaborate with and support others within its ecosystem by sharing knowledge and progress made during the decarbonization journey. The foundation’s commitment to transparency, innovation, and accountability is a significant step towards driving systemic change in the fight against climate change.

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons

Matt Lyons is the founder of Forestry & Carbon. Matt has over 25 years as a forestry consultant and is invoilved in numerous carbon credit offset projects.

Leave a Replay

Scroll to Top