WASHINGTON – Today, the Federal Reserve announced that it hired BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to shepherd several debt-buying programs on behalf of the U.S. central bank as it works to revive the economy from the impacts of the spread of coronavirus.
The programs include purchases of mortgage-backed security purchases, new investment-grade bonds, and already-issued investment-grade bonds including exchange-traded-funds, of which BlackRock is the world’s largest purveyor.
Moira Birss, Climate & Finance Director at Amazon Watch, a core partner of the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign, said:
“If BlackRock is going to be managing trillions of dollars for the US government – taxpayers’ money – then it must make sure it’s not locking us into a future climate-related market crash.
“Just this January, BlackRock announced that it would put climate at the center of its investment strategy moving forward, recognizing the longer-term risk that climate change poses to its clients’ portfolio as well as the wider financial system. As recently as last week, BlackRock staff reiterated this commitment. But while economic recovery for everyday Americans is vitally important right now, corporate bond buying programs like these are stealth fossil fuel company bailouts if adequate climate safeguards are not applied.”
Diana Best, Senior Finance Strategist with the Sunrise Project, a core partner with the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign, responded:
“Helping our economy get through this global pandemic is vitally important, but in doing so we shouldn’t be accelerating climate change, which BlackRock itself has acknowledged poses a direct threat to the global financial system. Companies which continue the expansion and production of fossil fuels are inconsistent with goals to manage the climate crisis; propping them up without clear Paris-compliant transition plans is unacceptable for any prudent fiscal policy.
“BlackRock has said it believes climate change is a core risk to the financial system. If it wouldn’t deal with certain climate risky products for its clients, it shouldn’t be managing these toxic assets for the Fed either. BlackRock must treat this with the same level of caution, risk management, and due diligence it applies for any of its clients and it should maintain its commitments to centering climate risk.”