As world leaders gathered in New York for Climate Week, activists launched a new campaign targeting BlackRock to face its climate problem and clean up its act.
If we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the private sector will have to step up in an urgent, meaningful way. Today the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth U.S. Amazon Watch, Divest/Invest, and other partners launched an exciting new campaign to push them to do just that, by calling on the world’s largest asset manager to face its climate responsibility and take serious action now.
Most people have no idea what asset managers are, but they have quietly become the largest owners of the global economy -- controlling $90 trillion of capital -- and have enormous influence behind the scenes across our economy. The world’s biggest asset manager, BlackRock, is one of the largest shareholders in most major corporations and manages $6.3 trillion in assets -- that’s about as much as the world’s top 20 pension funds combined.
That also means that BlackRock is also the largest investor in companies that are driving the climate crisis. In fact, BlackRock is the number-one investor in new coal plant production, one of the largest investors in oil and gas, and the top U.S. investor in companies destroying the world’s rainforests. BlackRock is also a top shareholder of many of the big banks that finance the development of new dirty fuels and pipelines.
Rather than using this huge ownership role as an opportunity to push for real climate action, BlackRock has let most of these companies off the hook and has increased its investments in climate destruction. BlackRock lags behind some of its peers by refusing to divest or vote against the directors of the worst polluters, by voting against shareholder proposals for climate action, and by offering no transparency into its own shareholder-engagement practices. A recent report showed that in the past year of shareholder actions, BlackRock voted with the corporate management at dirty energy companies 98 percent of the time, supported only 23 percent of climate-related proposals, and supported no political influence disclosure proposals at all.
It’s clear that BlackRock has a big climate problem, but it also has a big opportunity to fix it and help drive massive changes to protect the climate.
BlackRock has a lot of money and a lot of influence, and it could be using it for real good instead of continuing the status quo and funding climate destruction. And its CEO, Larry Fink, has made it clear that he wants to be a climate leader and has been vocal about the need for corporations to play a positive role in society. In his own words: “Every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.” But so far, it’s been a lot more talk than action from BlackRock.
That’s why we’ve launched this campaign. We’re pushing to hold BlackRock accountable to its own social responsibility and urging it to be a true leader in the fight against climate change.
This week, as world leaders in climate policy and finance gathered in New York City for Climate Week, the campaign was there to send a message that it’s time for BlackRock to face up to its climate problem and clean up its act. There were activists at Climate Week’s biggest sustainable finance conference handing out hundreds of campaign wristbands and other materials to attendees. Outside of BlackRock’s headquarters in Manhattan, there were more activists with signs and a truck displaying a digital ad, plus others passing out flyers and Kind bars wrapped with campaign information to hundreds of BlackRock employees and passersby -- as one headline put it, they were “Killing BlackRock’s Fossil Fuel Investments With Kindness.”
We need BlackRock to take meaningful climate action now, which means it needs to divest from polluting companies that refuse to change their practices, promote fossil-free and deforestation-free funds, push companies it owns to align with the Paris Agreement, and escalate pressure on laggards through transparent shareholder engagement.
It’s time for BlackRock and Larry Fink to put their money and power where their mouth is. This campaign to hold them accountable and demand action is just getting started.