COP26 is almost here, and pressure is building. - BlackRock's Big Problem


  • COP26 is almost here, and pressure is building.

    There’s less than a week to go until COP26, the United Nations climate conference which some are calling the most important yet. As folks across the globe make their way to Glasgow, pressure is mounting to hold the corporations that are investing in, funding, and insuring climate destruction accountable. These actions are culminating in a global day of action on Friday, October 29th.

    Click here to find an event near you as part of the Defund Climate Chaos day of action on this Friday, October 29th!

    As part of the runup to this critical global conference, we’ve seen a massive influx of actions to hold the world’s two largest asset managers, BlackRock and Vanguard, accountable. From vigils and mural paintings outside BlackRock’s San Francisco office to bike actions targeting Vanguard’s CEO (himself an avid cyclist) at its headquarters in the outskirts of Philadelphia, people impacted by corporate inaction on climate are coming together and raising their voices with the aim to push these firms to make meaningful (not just performative) climate commitments ahead of COP26. 

    Here are some highlights from the actions we’ve seen in the past few months. 

    On multiple occasions through September and October, activists painted murals, raised massive banners, and held memorial demonstrations for people killed by the impacts of climate change at events organized by AmazonWatch. Photos by Cindy Sparks and Matt Leonard. 

    The first week of October marked more demonstrations, with people gathering in London, Boca Raton, Charlotte, and NYC.

    In London, XR Money Rebellion organized a die-in outside of BlackRock’s office to emphasize that 2050 is too late to reach zero emissions and point out the lives that will continue to be impacted and even lost if we continue to wait.

    In Boca Raton and Charlotte, local activists held space outside of the BlackRock offices in their communities to urge the firm to reduce emissions in a meaningful way, and to announce its plans to do so before COP26.

    During this time, pressure on Vanguard, the world’s second largest asset manager and one of the other biggest investors in climate destruction alongside BlackRock, started to ramp up as well. Activists in the Philadelphia area have started dropping banners near Vanguard’s campus calling attention to its climate problem.

    Additionally, folks pressuring Vanguard held a bicycle action, aiming to get the attention of Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s CEO and avid cyclist.
    Read a full recap of the bike action here.
    We’ve also seen actions escalating at BlackRock’s headquarters in New York City. Earlier this month, New York Communities for Change handed out coal and flyers with information about BlackRock’s climate failings to employees going in and out of BlackRock’s office.

    Then, just last Monday, the Jewish Youth Climate Movement with support from GreenFaith occupied the entrances of BlackRock’s New York office to demand that BlackRock stops investing in fossil fuels and cuts ties with companies that fund the fossil fuel industry. At this action, three Rabbis and six Jewish youth were arrested. The action called on Larry Fink to stand by his Jewish values and stop investing in climate destruction.

    “Judaism’s highest priority is saving lives,” said Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Senior Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim and among those arrested at the action. “The Jewish youth who are leading us today understand that we are in a life or death moment, that we must divest from fossil fuels now in order to save lives.”

    More photos from the action are included below. Photos by Erik McGregor.

    After Monday’s news, the week continued to heat up with more pressure on investors, as The Fixers – a splinter group of the Yes Men – released what turned out to be a series of fake announcements indicating that Vanguard had committed to impressive steps to tackle its role in the climate crisis. The spoof also included a “Vanguardians of the Galaxy” program aimed at young investors; read a full recap of what happened here.

    Then, later in the week, 140 people attended a webinar to learn more about how asset managers like BlackRock and Vanguard exacerbate the climate crisis and how to get plugged into both campaigns. They also heard directly from frontline Indigenous communities about the dire consequences of inaction from asset managers. You can watch a recording of the webinar below. 

    This is just a small portion of the activity focused on asset managers we’ve seen in the road to Glasgow – not to mention all the growing pressure on banks, insurance companies, and other investors in the climate destruction money pipeline. This weekend, beginning October 29th, we’re expecting demonstrations against the corporations fueling climate destruction all across the world. Click here to find an event near you, and stay tuned for more photos, videos, and updates about the leadup to COP26, as well as from the conference itself.