Rockefeller org picks climate advisers

A highly influential US$6.3 billion private foundation has set up a new Climate Advisory Council to accelerate the just transition and named its inaugural co-chairs and members.

The Rockefeller Foundation, the global philanthropic medical research and innovation institution, ranks as the 30th largest philanthropic institution globally by endowment.

The council, part of a US$1 billion push on the climate transition, will advise on the foundation's climate solutions portfolio to boost impact and ensure a 'just transition' - meaning that poor and marginalised communities, as well as workers, are not left behind in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The organisation's executive vice president of programs, Elizabeth Yee, was made co-chair.

"Developing people-centred solutions to climate change requires a significant breadth, depth, and diversity of expertise," Yee commented.

"We are fortunate to partner with these world-class climate leaders who will help guide our decisions and evaluate our progress as we work to develop solutions that can enhance the well-being of people and planet."

Yee will co-chair alongside Alok Sharma, COP26 president and Rockefeller Foundation climate finance fellow.

Sharma said he is "delighted" at the nomination.

"I look forward to working with eminent experts across sectors in this vital endeavour to advance climate action," he said.

"We will support the foundation to develop and scale innovative solutions to solve the climate crisis and support those most vulnerable to its impacts."

The other members, appointed to serve a two-year voluntary term, are:

  • Ani Dasgupta, World Resources Institute CEO, 
  • Karen Fang, Bank of America sustainable finance lead, 
  • Arunabha Ghosh, Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) founder and CEO, 
  • James Mwangi, Africa Climate Ventures CEO, 
  • Naoko Ishii, professor and director of the University of Tokyo's Center for Global Commons, 
  • Xiye Bastida, Re-Earth Initiative director, 
  • Vera Songwe, economist, and 
  • Archana Soreng, activist.  
Despite being founded on oil money, in 2020 the foundation pledged it would divest from fossil fuels.

John D Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil, which once controlled over 90% of US oil production, set up the organisation in 1913.

It will target net zero greenhouse gas emissions for its endowment by 2050. According to the institution this makes it the largest private US foundation to make this commitment to date.

It also pledged to invest over US$1 bn over the next five years to advance the global climate transition.

This includes US$105 m to increase access to healthy and sustainable food; US$70 m in Series B funding for metro-grids in the Congo; $35 m in global climate-finance investments in nature-based solutions, decarbonisation, and carbon removal strategies; $20 m for US climate-smart infrastructure; US$5 m for global energy storage; and US$1 m for mini-grids in Zambia.

Read more: Rockefeller FoundationAfrica Climate VenturesAlok SharmaAni DasguptaArchana SorengArunabha GhoshBank of AmericaElizabeth YeeJames MwangiKaren FangNaoko IshiiRe-Earth InitiativeStandard OilUniversity of TokyoVera SongweWorld Resources InstituteXiye Bastida