Non-profit

BankFWD

Website:

bankfwd.org/

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Project of:

Sustainable Markets Foundation

Formation:

2020

ESG Activism

BankFWD is a campaign that pressures banks to stop financing oil and gas companies and their projects. Founded by members of the Rockefeller family descended from early 20th century oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, the project is fiscally sponsored by the Sustainable Markets Foundation, an environmentalist funding organization that pushes for stricter environmental laws and bans on natural gas production. [1]

BankFWD is part of the Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) movement, a movement which attempts to influence companies to adopt left-leaning policies.

Background

Members of the Rockefeller family, which made its fortune from oil, founded BankFWD. BankFWD seeks to force companies to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement and work towards zero carbon emissions. [2]

Leadership

The three co-founders and co-chairs of BankFWD are Danial Growald, Peter Gill Case, and Valerie Rockefeller. Each is a fifth-generation descendant of billionaire John D. Rockefeller, who founded Standard Oil. [3]

Growald, Case, and Rockefeller announced the founding of BankFWD in a New York Times opinion piece in October 2020, admitting that fossil fuels have been “essential to the development of the modern world and its widespread, though unequal, prosperity.” The piece went on to note that the next generation must work “in low- and zero-carbon technologies,” while still benefiting from the use of fossil fuels. [4]

Valerie Rockefeller, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the effort a “just financial responsibility for us to be putting our dollars to align with our values and our philanthropic goals.” [5]

Growald is also the grandson David Rockefeller, a financier and former Chase Manhattan Corporation CEO. [6]

Advocacy

At the 2020 JPMorgan Chase shareholder meeting, BankFWD celebrated likeminded advocates for pushing a shareholder resolution that would require the financial giant to set a net-zero emissions target and align with the Paris Climate Agreement. The motion was defeated. [7]

Even when financial companies have taken steps in favor of BankFWD’s mission, the initiative has criticized their actions. JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup announced that they would not finance oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Morgan Stanley also committed to net-zero emissions targets for its financing by 2050. [8] BankFWD co-founders claimed that those actions fall short. [9]

BankFWD further argues that the influence of bank customers is underutilized and that since 2016, the top 35 banks have provided $2.7 trillion in financing to the conventional energy industry, citing data from the Rainforest Action Network. BankFWD also calls out the largest providers of fossil fuel financing, criticizing JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Bank of America as the four largest funders. [10]

BankFWD is asking banking customers to pledge to ask banks to phase out financing of conventional fuels to align with the Paris Agreement by 2030, advocate for left-of-center public policies on climate change, and transfer their assets away from banks that do not withhold financing from conventional fuels. [11]

References

  1. Danial Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller. “Three Rockefellers Say Banks Must Stop Financing Fossil Fuels.” The New York Times. October 11, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/opinion/banks-climate-change-rockefeller.html ^
  2. BankFWD. LinkedIn. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/company/bankfwd/ ^
  3. Beals, Rachel Koning. “Mega Banks Should Use Their Lending Power Against Big Oil, Say These Rockefeller Family Members.” MarketWatch. October 12, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/mega-banks-should-use-their-lending-power-against-big-oil-say-these-rockefeller-family-members-2020-10-12 ^
  4. Danial Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller. “Three Rockefellers Say Banks Must Stop Financing Fossil Fuels.” The New York Times. October 11, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/opinion/banks-climate-change-rockefeller.html ^
  5. Colman, Zack. “Oil Scions Rally Wealthy Peers to Press Banks on Climate.” Politico. October 2, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/02/oil-scions-rally-wealthy-peers-to-press-banks-on-climate-425018 ^
  6. Stevens, Pippa. “Rockefeller Heirs Call on Banks to Stop Lending to Fossil Fuel Companies.” CNBC. October 16, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/16/rockefeller-heirs-call-on-banks-to-stop-lending-to-fossil-fuel-companies.html ^
  7. BankFWD. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://bankfwd.org/ ^
  8. Colman, Zack. “Oil Scions Rally Wealthy Peers to Press Banks on Climate.” Politico. October 2, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/02/oil-scions-rally-wealthy-peers-to-press-banks-on-climate-425018 ^
  9. Danial Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller. “Three Rockefellers Say Banks Must Stop Financing Fossil Fuels.” The New York Times. October 11, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/11/opinion/banks-climate-change-rockefeller.html ^
  10. BankFWD. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://bankfwd.org/ ^
  11. BankFWD. Accessed October 31, 2020. https://bankfwd.org/ ^
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