New York, May 10th, 2022
Today, BlackRock Investment Stewardship (BIS) released a new memo detailing the asset manager’s approach to voting on shareholder proposals during the 2022 proxy season. In the report, BIS outlines that it is not likely to support resolutions that ask companies to make changes to their business model.
This AGM season, for the first time, banks and insurance companies face shareholder proposals asking them to end financing for new fossil fuel development in line with the IEA’s net-zero pathway. The latest IPCC report states that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will “involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use.” The scientists make it clear that there is no evidence that continued fossil fuel expansion is compatible with a 1.5°C pathway, with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres calling investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure “moral and economic madness.”
In its memo, BIS argues that in 2022 many resolutions are more “prescriptive or constraining on companies” than in 2021. As a result, BlackRock’s support for climate shareholder proposals will likely fall significantly this year — a disappointing outcome from a self-proclaimed leader of the energy transition.
Members of the BlackRock’s Big Problem Campaign responded to the memo:
Moira Birss, Climate & Finance Director at Amazon Watch:
“BlackRock claims that proposals to end the expansion of fossil fuel production are ‘too prescriptive.’ Yet the scientific consensus, and even the International Energy Agency, make clear that ending new fossil fuel production is the minimum needed to avoid catastrophic climate change that will negatively impact all investors — not to mention every living being on the planet. Shareholder proposals have evolved in line with what we need to address the escalating crisis; BlackRock’s voting has not.”
Adele Shraiman, Fossil-Free Finance Campaign Representative at the Sierra Club:
“Larry Fink claims to be a climate leader, but somehow there’s always a new reason why BlackRock can’t actually use its power to move meaningful climate action forward. The question of whether these resolutions were overly ‘micromanaging’ was asked and answered when the SEC rejected calls from banks to block shareholders from voting on them, but BlackRock would rather stand in the way of commonsense climate proposals and let big polluters off the hook. BlackRock’s rhetoric about engaging with its clients on a clean energy transition is worthless if it’s not paired with meaningful accountability for clients that are clearly not interested in making that transition a reality.”
Jason Opeña Disterhoft, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network
“The exclusive focus of today’s BIS memo on disclosure and broad-brush dismissal of resolutions calling for immediate action as ‘micromanaging’ simply does not meet our climate moment. Climate change is a clear and present threat to universal owners’ broad portfolios. We have a few key yes-no litmus tests on driving climate change — expansion of fossil fuels is a case in point. Corporations that are failing those tests must change course now, and this year’s climate resolutions offer clear opportunities on that score. Fiduciary duty demands that stewardship teams support those resolutions — BlackRock’s stewardship team above all.”
Jacey Bingler, Senior Communications Manager, The Sunrise Project
[email protected], +1 207 616 6730