The ‘Follow This’ Climate Resolution Received 20.65% Approval, Up from 8.4% For a Similar Measure in 2019… BlackRock Has Not Stated How It Voted
Halfway Through Proxy Season, and BlackRock Has Already Failed Several Major Climate Votes… Did It Vote For Climate Action or the Status Quo at BP?
This morning, the oil giant BP (formerly known as British Petroleum) held its annual general meeting (AGM), and shareholders voted on a climate action resolution brought about by the green shareholders group Follow This.
The resolution, which would have the company set and publish targets that are consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, received 20.65% approval from shareholders despite management opposition. That’s up from 8.4% for a similar resolution in 2019.
BlackRock is BP’s largest shareholder, with roughly 6% ownership stake. Vanguard is the second largest with 3%.
For months, BlackRock has touted its commitment to hold the companies it invests in accountable for their destructive climate policies. However, over the last several weeks, BlackRock has failed major tests at Wells Fargo, Barclays, and Duke Energy. Of the key climate votes that the BlackRock’s Big Problem network is tracking, BlackRock has voted favorably only at Bunge Limited.
“We need to see some transparency from BlackRock and other leading investors on how they voted today,” said Roberta Giordano, Finance Campaigner with the BlackRock’s Big Problem network. “BlackRock has failed to take several key climate votes in the last two weeks, throwing the seriousness of its commitments into question. Supporting this resolution at BP should have been a no-brainer for BlackRock and a vote against it would be another big strike on BlackRock’s climate record.”
“Once again, responsible investors have given a clear signal to the Board of BP. They’re saying we do not accept empty promises for the distant future anymore, we need you to act now,” said Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This. “Oil major boards rarely take the initiative to move on their own. The shareholders have to compel them to set targets, and have to support them to attain these targets.”
“BlackRock and other leading investors have an obligation to pave the way with the influence they have, and it is as much in their interest as anyone else’s. With such a huge and diverse portfolio, BlackRock has everything to lose in a system that is not resilient to climate destruction,” added van Baal.
- BP’s net zero by 2050 “ambition” announcement was made to significant fanfare in 2020 but was riddled with loopholes – including that emissions from products BP sells will continue to grow through 2030.
- BP holds a 22% stake in Russian state oil firm Rosneft, further undermining its net zero ambitions, and funding a massive Arctic oil project.
- While BP promised not to explore for fossil fuel in new countries, BP is continuing to explore for new sources of oil and gas in the 79 countries it currently operates in.
Following BP, the BlackRock’s Big Problem network will be watching the remaining key votes:
- 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.
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.