Sustainable investors are asking BlackRock Chairman and Chief Executive Larry Fink to take environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors in his asset management more seriously.
“Ethos and other leading proponents of responsible investing have written to Larry Fink ahead of his annual letter urging him to better align BlackRock’s proxy voting with its stated ambitions on climate change by more broadly supporting climate-related shareholder resolutions,” wrote the Ethos, the Swiss Foundation for Sustainable Development, on its website.
Citing the 50/50 Climate Project, Ethos noted that BlackRock, with a portfolio of $6.4 trillion (€5.63 trillion/CHF6.39 trillion), supported around only 23 percent of climate-related proposals at shareholder meetings of S&P 500 oil, gas and utility companies last year.
A group of Swiss pension funds and institutions, Ethos noted that Fink has said that companies can no longer ignore the risks of climate change. But Jeanne Martin, senior campaign officer of ShareAction, which signed the letter, said Fink was not putting his money where his mouth was.
“The words of the world’s largest asset manager carry weight and its contribution to this narrative is welcome,” Martin told the Financial Times. “However, the danger lies in these words not being followed up with meaningful action.”
BlackRock told the Financial Times that its stewardship team discussed climate change-related risks with more than 230 companies through June 2018. “Our process emphasizes engagement before voting because we believe that is the most effective way to achieve productive outcomes for our clients’ long-term interests,” the company said.