Guess who the largest investors in climate-harming energy companies are? That would be major asset managers, with BlackRock and Vanguard Group the biggest offenders. So says an environmentalists’ report, “Investing in Climate Chaos.”
The report, spearheaded by Urgewald, a German environmental group, and conducted “in partnership” with more than 20 other nongovernmental organizations, comes down hard on two financial service stalwarts in particular: Vanguard, the mutual fund powerhouse, and BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager.
Beyond those two, half of the stakes in fossil fuel companies identified in the report are held by just 23 investors. What’s more,18 of them are U.S.-based, the advocacy group stated, basing the report on data collected in January.
BlackRock has positions in oil and gas companies that account for two-thirds of the world’s yearly hydrocarbon production, per Urgewald. Its single largest energy holding is also Exxon, which is the firm’s ninth biggest equity position overall. . Although the asset manager has a policy against investing in any business that gets at least one-quarter of its revenue from coal, the report charged that BlackRock exempts power companies that use coal. “As a result, BlackRock remains the world’s largest investor in coal developers,” it said.
In the past, BlackRock has responded to critics on the right and the left by saying that, while it supports ESG, is not about to “dictate how clients should invest.” In a statement, it declared that “transition to a low carbon is in the interest of realizing the best long-term financial results for our clients.”
Vanguard, also under GOP attack, has made much the same argument. It did raise environmentalists’ ire last year when it quit the investment-industry initiative on combating climate change, saying it wanted to “speak independently on matters of importance to our investors.” Some contended that Vanguard was just knuckling under to politicians’ pressure.
Author(s): Larry Light
Publication Date: 25 Apr 2023
Publication Site: ai-CIO