BlackRock Likely Voted Against Key Climate Resolution at Asia’s Largest Banker of Climate Chaos Despite Company Being in BlackRock’s “Climate Focus Universe”
Tokyo – Today, BlackRock was noticeably silent after 23% of shareholders issued a major climate warning to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) by voting in favor of a resolution filed by Kiko Network and three individual shareholders affiliated with Market Forces, Rainforest Action Network, and 350.org Japan (“co-filers”). The resolution called on the bank to adopt and disclose a plan to align its financing and investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement. BlackRock has a 5.3% ownership in MUFG but has yet to reveal how it voted despite MUFG being on the asset manager’s own Climate Focus Universe list.
“Throughout this AGM season, BlackRock has failed to vote for change at the worst climate banks and it appears BlackRock has dropped the ball again at MUFG,” said Roberta Giordano, Finance Campaigner with the BlackRock’s Big Problem network. “BlackRock needs to take real voting action with banks like MUFG if it’s serious about its climate commitments. A focus list without action at the companies on the list is just greenwashing, so we hope BlackRock surprises us by releasing a positive vote.”
Last week in the lead up to the Bank’s AGM, protests took place across Asia, Europe, and the U.S. calling on MUFG to stop funding climate chaos.
“The world is shifting rapidly to clean energy, but MUFG continues to cling onto the past,” said Meg Fukuzawa with Market Forces. “Investors have a responsibility to keep up the pressure and it’s critical for them to apply a razor sharp focus during the next year to ensure MUFG moves from words to genuine action.”
“While MUFG’s new (net zero) policy has temporarily assured some investors the bank is on the right track, today’s vote shows a high level of dissatisfaction and concern,” said Takayoshi Yokoyama, 350.org Japan Representative. “Even though our proposal was rejected, there were quite a few votes in favor, and as the Corporate Governance Code shows, MUFG must now analyze the reasons for investors’ support and deepen dialogue with its shareholders. MUFG now has the opportunity to close its climate loopholes.”
Why MUFG Matters
- MUFG is the fifth largest bank in the world by assets, and Japan’s largest bank, with subsidiaries around the world.
- MUFG is the largest Asian banker of climate chaos since the Paris Climate Agreement – that’s because globally, MUFG is the 6th largest banker of all fossil fuels and the 7th largest banker of the palm oil sector.
- Activists around the world have been targeting MUFG for years, and have secured stronger commitments by MUFG, including a net zero by 2050 commitment for its financed emissions. But the bank’s long-term commitments aren’t enough to tackle the climate crisis
- Despite its net zero commitment, MUFG will continue financing coal expansion. The bank is financing the construction of a brand new 1200MW coal plant in Vietnam, and has pledged to continue financing coal power as long as it’s equipped with “new tech”.
- MUFG will also continue financing oil & gas expansion. The bank is one of the top global funders of oil & gas expansion and has no policy to restrict its oil & gas financing. MUFG is currently the largest Asian banker of the controversial Line 3 tar sands pipeline that’s being constructed in the US, which is violating Indigenous treaty rights and could result in an additional 50 coal plants worth of CO2 emissions.
- MUFG has weak human rights policies. The bank finances numerous companies violating human rights, and has no explicit policy requiring clients & investees to respect the right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
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.
Leading up to this proxy season, 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.
Photos of the AGM action / Press Conference are available here.
For more information contact: Myriam Fallon, [email protected],