Demonstrations coincide with reports that BlackRock will vote to retain Exxon Chairman/CEO Darren Woods and Independent Director Kenneth Frazier.
As exclusive Reuters reporting details how BlackRock plans to vote at tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Annual General Meeting, activists from coast to coast spent the afternoon demonstrating outside of BlackRock’s offices, calling out its addictions to fossil fuels and pushing the giant asset manager to reverse course on climate change.
Reuters’ Svea Herbst-Bayliss reports that BlackRock is bucking Exxon management in support of three outside candidates to join Exxon’s board. However, BlackRock is voting to retain Exxon board chairman/CEO Darren Woods and lead independent director Kenneth Frazier despite demands from climate activists and green investors, including the BlackRock’s Big Problem network.
BlackRock’s Big Problem had listed voting against Woods and Frazier as one of eight “Key Votes” for BlackRock to take this shareholder season.
In response to this report, BlackRock’s Big Problem releases the following statement:
“BlackRock is trying to be too clever by half. Drastic changes at Exxon are long overdue, and hopefully some new leadership on the board can begin to deliver that. But accountability starts at the top, and the fact remains that under the leadership of Darren Woods, Exxon has accelerated the climate crisis while attempting to deny and greenwash the truth. BlackRock needs to set a higher bar for itself and the companies it invests in. By voting to retain Woods and Frazier, BlackRock has failed to follow through on yet another key climate test.” — Ben Cushing, Financial Advocacy Campaign Manager for the Sierra Club
More key questions and concerns heading into BlackRock’s AGM are outlined in this memo.
In San Francisco, “1000 Grandmothers For Future Generations” led an action that included song, dance, and street theater. Over 50 “grandmothers” and allies showed up to the demonstration.
In New York, Code Pink held a protest. Separately and later in the day, New York Communities for Change showed up to BlackRock’s offices with containers full of coal to symbolize BlackRock’s addiction to fossil fuels.
Photos from all three actions are available here.
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.