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Rockefeller heirs urge banks to cease lending to fossil gas corporations

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Descendants of Standard Oil's founder, John D. Rockefeller, urge major banks to end fossil fuel financing.

Daniel Growald, Peter Gill Case, and Valerie Rockefeller – fifth generation members of the famous family – created BankFWD, a network of powerful individuals and institutions designed to convince banks to change their lending practices.

While they are necessary to contain the effects of climate change, they also argue that a move away from dependence on fossil fuels is necessary from an economic perspective. In other words, long-term financial profitability is inextricably linked to the changing planet.

"Something strange is happening right now where the business community is still trying to grapple with the idea of ​​climate change, that there are real risks to the economy," Daniel Growald said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Friday. "There's a very direct economic link. If banks like JPMorgan don't change their practices, business will end up being very bad in the long run."

Growald, a grandson of former Chase Manhattan Corporation CEO David Rockefeller, noted that JPMorgan is the starting point as the bank is by far the largest fossil fuel lender. According to a report by the Rainforest Action Network, JPMorgan has raised around $ 268 billion in fossil fuel funding over the past four years, well above Wells Fargo, the second largest provider, at $ 198 billion.

On October 6, JPMorgan announced a funding commitment to align its practices with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. But Growald, along with Case and Rockefeller, said in a New York Times statement that the mission was not outlining plans to end fossil fuel lending, where the bank could have the greatest impact.

The big banks, including JPMorgan, have pledged billions in sustainable funding pledges, but Growald said that will only go so far if banks continue to support oil and gas companies.

"We are actually calling on JPMorgan to commit to stop funding fossil fuel companies that have no plan of their own for moving to a world that is safe from climate change," Growald told CNBC. Ultimately, banks and fossil fuel companies need to work together to find out how business models can be transformed to support a carbon-free economy.

Rockefeller added that the push behind BankFWD is not simply to put the fossil fuel industry out of business, but rather to urge banks to change their practices.

"We hope that a race between banks will compete with one another for the trillions of dollars of wealth that will be passed on to generations who care about, know and frustrate climate change," Rockefeller said in Squawk on the Street.

CNBC has approached JPMorgan for comment.

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Katherine Clark