In response to news that BlackRock has abstained from the Paris Agreement shareholder resolution at Barclays this morning and also issued its latest Stewardship Report today, the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign issued the following statements:
“As it stands, BlackRock already failed the first major test of this proxy season when it voted in support of the chairman of Wells Fargo, the world’s top banker of fracking,” said Ben Cushing, financial advocacy campaign manager at the Sierra Club. “Now it has failed the second test at Barclays. While BlackRock is making some progress, not all votes are created equal.”
Regarding the Stewardship Report: Cushing added: “Many of the most important votes haven’t happened yet. We’re still waiting to see what BlackRock will do this week at Duke and later this month at ExxonMobil. BlackRock is taking too much credit, too soon.”
“BlackRock just abstained from a crucial climate vote at Barclays on the same day it released its Q1 stewardship report touting its progress on climate action. Rhetoric on climate is nice, but abstaining on critical votes is not the climate leadership BlackRock is claiming,” said Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead at Market Forces. “Barclays financed another $27 billion to fossil fuels in 2020, increased funding for fracking, tar sands and arctic oil by 32% in the same time period, and remains the biggest UK funder of the global coal industry.”
The Stewardship Report also takes credit for BlackRock meeting with Indigenous leaders to discuss human rights.
“Meeting with impacted Indigenous communities is just the first step; adopting policies to hold companies accountable for respecting their rights is what’s actually necessary,” said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director for Amazon Watch.
In March, Indigenous leaders sent an open letter to BlackRock demanding action on human rights and deforestation.
As noted by Bloomberg News and Reuters, key shareholder votes are yet to come.
BlackRock’s Big Problem will be watching for the following upcoming votes:
- Duke Energy (TOMORROW – Thursday, 12:30 PM Eastern Time), a broad coalition of climate groups have called on BlackRock and Vanguard to vote against director Chair/CEO Lynn Good and Independent Lead Director Michael G. Browning for failing to implement adequate plans to address climate change. Duke received an “F” grade in a recent Sierra Club analysis of its plans for clean energy.
- BP (May 12)– Vote for the shareholder resolution for the company to set and publish targets that are consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Shell (May 18)– Vote for the shareholder resolution for the company to set and publish targets that are consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- ExxonMobil (May 26)– Vote against directors Chairman/CEO Darren Woods and Lead Independent Director Kenneth C. Frazier for failing to implement plans consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5ºC.
- MUFG (June 29) – Vote for the shareholder resolution for the company to set and publish targets that are consistent with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- At Bunge Limited, we expect that BlackRock will vote today for a management-backed shareholder resolution related to deforestation efforts.
Already, BlackRock failed to vote against Wells Fargo’s chairman despite that bank’s horrendous climate practices. Now, BlackRock failed its second big test by abstaining at Barclays.
Why BlackRock? BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world. As such, it has huge power and influence in major corporations – including major polluters and their funders. That influence can make or break climate action. BlackRock can use this power to fight climate change by voting out boards of directors at companies not acting fast enough on climate, and voting for shareholder resolutions that are critical for curbing the climate crisis.
Throughout the month of April, climate activists held demonstrations outside of BlackRock office locations in New York, San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Dallas, London, and Zurich, and will continue to do so. These actions included a giant eyeball projected onto BlackRock’s London offices. Over 80 people demonstrated at BlackRock’s headquarters in New York City. Photos from these actions are available here.
BlackRock’s Big Problem is a global network of NGOs, social movements, grassroots groups, and financial advocates that are pressuring asset managers like BlackRock to rapidly align their business practices with a climate-safe world.
Our network includes some of the most effective corporate campaigning groups in the US, UK, Europe, and around the world. We know that only by increasing pressure on customers, employees, peer companies, and in the media will these fossil fuel backers take the bold and visionary steps necessary to save humanity from the climate emergency.