Investment giant BlackRock bows to climate emergency pressure – business live

Asset management giant promises to put environmental issues at the heart of its investment strategy, following pressure from climate protesters

10.56am GMT

BlackRock’s decision to drop major thermal coal producers like hot potatoes is a blow to the fossil fuel sector, says Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at ShareAction, the responsible investment campaign group.

But, she insists Larry Fink and colleagues need to do a lot more to actually clean up the financial sector, and put pressure on banks:

“BlackRock’s coal divestment decision is yet another significant blow to the already dying market. Yet major banks like Barclays continue to prop up coal-heavy companies.

If BlackRock is serious about its commitment to phase out thermal coal, it should use its voting rights to get major coal financiers to do the same.

While we welcome its commitment to improve transparency of its stewardship activities, for far too long the asset manager has kept everyone in the dark about the companies it was meeting with, the topics discussed, and most importantly the outcome of those engagements.

But we might not like what we see when we open the door on these activities: BlackRock’s current voting disclosures on climate issues give little comfort that it will vote in a manner fitting of the climate crisis.”

10.47am GMT

BlackRock’s pledge to become a more environmentally responsible investor has been welcomed by some campaigners.

Diana Best, senior strategist for the Sunrise Project, says Larry Fink’s decision is a “fantastic start”, which could spur rivals into action.

“BlackRock’s new initiatives match the size of the crisis we’re seeing 2020 and are the direct result of an outpouring of pressure from the global climate movement that has zeroed in on the company over the past year. Putting climate change at the absolute center of its business is the way every company should respond to this planetary emergency.

“BlackRock beginning its shift of capital out of fossil fuels, including today’s divestment of coal in its actively managed funds, is a fantastic start and instantly raises the bar for competitors such as Vanguard and State Street Global Advisors.

Even with today’s announcements, based on its size BlackRock will still remain one of, if not the largest, investors in fossil fuels. So we will be looking for additional leadership from the company in, as Larry Fink said, ‘fundamentally reshaping finance to deal with climate change,” including additional shifts of capital out of fossil fuels.”

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