As world leaders meet in Poland at the UN Climate Conference, two new reports show BlackRock is the largest investor in both new coal plants and existing reserves worldwide.
During this week's UN Climate Conference in Poland, world leaders are meeting to discuss how to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, which require a rapid phase-out of coal. Yet two new reports show that US investor BlackRock remains the #1 supporter of existing and new coal worldwide.
The two reports - the first from data-driven NGO Influence Map and the second from German NGO Urgewald - show that BlackRock is not only the largest investor in companies developing new coal plants, it is also the largest shareholder in oil, gas, and thermal coal reserves, bigger than any other company on Earth.
Not only that, but BlackRock and other giant asset managers have increased their investments in coal since the 2015 Paris accord. As the Financial Times noted, this clearly "raises the question of how seriously they take the issue of tackling global warming."
UN says coal needs to be reduced, yet $478 billion flowed to coal developers since Paris
Recent high profile reports from the IPCC and the UN issued stark warnings on the need for an accelerated phase-out of coal power, recommending "drastic cuts in the use of thermal coal to avert catastrophic climate change."
Yet significant coal production is still planned, worldwide.
According to Urgewald, the finance industry has invested over US $478 billion in the world's top coal plant developers since the Paris agreement was signed. And the world's largest investor in coal plant developers is BlackRock.
BlackRock holds over US $11 billion in 56 coal plant developers. When looking at the top 5 companies expanding coal power, BlackRock is one of the top five investors in all of them, and the largest foreign investor in four of them.
BlackRock has worst coal intensity among asset managers
After Paris, many asset managers including BlackRock, said climate change presented an "increasing risk to investment returns". BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in his 2018 investor letter, "companies must ask themselves: how are we managing our impact on the environment?".
Yet Influence Map's extensive dataset shows that BlackRock owns more oil, gas, and thermal coal reserves than any other investor.
Even worse, according to Influence Map, BlackRock also has the "most coal intensive portfolio" among the ten biggest asset manager groups. BlackRock's "thermal coal intensity" is 50% higher than the benchmark average for the world's 60,000 largest funds tracked by the research.
Leading European asset managers such as AXA, UBS and Allianz, all with emerging policies on thermal coal, show far less coal intense funds. Once again, BlackRock trails the pack when it comes to lining its climate rhetoric up with its investment practices.
"Many of the global investors and banks named in our research profess to be responsible climate actors. But while governments are debating the future of our planet's climate in Katowice, they money flows of these investors are literally burning up our planet,", says Heffa Schuecking, Director of Urgewald.
Read recent Financial Times coverage (paywall)