Business

BlackRock C.E.O. Larry Fink: Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance

While BlackRock makes its green push, the Trump administration is going in the opposite direction, repealing and weakening laws aimed at protecting the environment and promoting sustainability. Indeed, Mr. Fink’s effort appeared to be another example of the private sector pressing on issues that the White House has abandoned.

Still, Mr. Fink made plain that while he intends for the firm to consider climate risks, he would not pursue an across-the-board sale of energy companies that produce fossil fuels. Because of its sheer size, BlackRock will remain one of the world’s largest investors in fossil-fuel companies.

“Despite recent rapid advances in technology, the science does not yet exist to replace many of today’s essential uses of hydrocarbons,” he wrote. “We need to be mindful of the economic, scientific, social and political realities of the energy transition.”

BlackRock manages money for countries across the globe as well as states and municipalities across the nation. It could face opposition for its new stance in areas that benefit from fossil fuels, like countries in the Middle East or states where oil has become a significant part of their economies.

Mr. Fink said that because much of the money BlackRock manages is invested in passive index funds like those that track the SP 500, the firm was unable to simply sell shares in companies that it felt were not focused on sustainability. But he did say that the firm could do so in what are known as “actively managed funds,” in which BlackRock can choose which stocks are included.

BlackRock also plans to offer new passive funds — including target-date funds that are based on a person’s age and are meant to be used to prepare for retirement — that will not include fossil fuel companies. Investors will be able to choose these instead of more traditional funds. To the extent that fossil fuel companies are in an index, BlackRock plans to push them to consider their eventual transition to renewable energy. Mr. Fink said the company would vote against them if they are not moving fast enough.

“We will be increasingly disposed to vote against management and board directors when companies are not making sufficient progress on sustainability-related disclosures and the business practices and plans underlying them,” he wrote.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/14/business/dealbook/larry-fink-blackrock-climate-change.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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