WASHINGTON – As we embark on 2020 with the fight against climate change taking center stage, 17 youth climate groups and representatives from Mothers Out Front released two letters to Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and the world’s largest investor in coal, oil, gas, and soft commodity companies tied to deforestation. The letters call out the CEO for his inability to take full responsibility for his company’s role in the climate crisis and for his greenwashing. The letters follow months of protests from the groups at BlackRock offices in San Francisco, Boston, and New York City.
With Larry Fink likely to release his annual letter to CEOs in the coming days, the groups are demanding that Fink include actionable and time bound changes in this year’s letter. In years past Fink has lectured on how corporations should have a social purpose but not committed himself or BlackRock to any actual actions to take responsibility for the company’s role in the climate crisis. The grassroots activists are calling on Fink to enact real changes to tackle the climate crisis, including the introduction of a coal policy, fossil and deforestation free funds, and voting in favor of climate related shareholders proposals.
“I am entering adulthood at a time where corporations like BlackRock are a direct threat to my future with their investments in fossil fuels.” said Carrie Ramirez, age 18, a leader with Youth Vs. Apocalypse, a youth group who has been calling out BlackRock for its investments in fossil fuels, private prisons, and companies driving deforestation in the Amazon. “It’s become increasingly difficult for young people like me to dream of a future when we are being forced to live under the incumbent threat of climate change. We are demanding that Larry Fink take responsibility for his company’s role in the destruction of our planet and to use his power and influence to lead the financial industry away from climate destruction. My generation needs to see bold action now, we can no longer afford to see world’s leaders like Fink hide behind empty words. Our eyes are on you.”
Over the course of 2019, BlackRock was singled out by climate activists, investors, legislators, and thought leaders for being one of the most significant and destructive financial actors on the planet. As a result, on Thursday, January 19th, BlackRock announced it would join Climate Action 100+, a network of investors committed to driving a transition to clean energy.
“As mothers and allies who have young people like Carrie Ramirez in our lives, we call on Larry Fink to put words into action,” said Debbie New, a member of Mothers Out Front. “Joining Climate Action 100+ and addressing climate in his annual letter are positive signs, but we need more than his signature. So far, his words about BlackRock serving a social purpose have misrepresented his choice to continue driving the climate crisis by investing in coal, oil, and gas, and voting against climate resolutions. He can make a different choice. Our letter from mothers and allies outlines concrete actions we need him to take in 2020.”
Despite Fink’s efforts to portray his company as a leader for social good, the company has been called a laggard around climate issues. BlackRock has failed to introduce any policies to end its coal funding and has blocked climate progress at companies that it has majority shares in. A 2019 report from Majority Action found that if BlackRock and Vanguard had voted in favor, 16 critical climate resolutions would have passed at US companies last year.Print
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