Bill McKibben writes that BlackRock's tiny steps on climate have been celebrated far over its actual accomplishments to date.
350.org co-founder and long time supporter of our work targeting the funders of the climate crisis Bill McKibben compared BlackRock to a major league baseball player who was recently voted M.V.P., but in truth it’s batting average is barely above bush league.
To continue the baseball analogy, BlackRock finally stepped up to the climate plate this year. Larry Fink, the C.E.O., focussed his annual letter to investors on global warming, promising that henceforth sustainability would be at the heart of investment decisions. For that stand, Fink was recently named the first Institutional Investor of the Year—by Institutional Investor magazine. This encomium seems a little like awarding the season’s M.V.P. during spring training, simply because an intrepid player announces his plan to bat .400.
In point of fact, BlackRock mostly whiffed on climate last year: the activist group Majority Action reports that, during proxy season, when BlackRock’s votes would have made a real difference, the firm voted to elect ninety-nine per cent of the directors proposed for boards at energy companies and utilities, even if the companies had made no serious climate commitments.
Fink didn’t bat .400, in other words—he batted below .100.
McKibben correctly notes the “real ballgame” for BlackRock’s action on climate:
It’s not just BlackRock’s votes at shareholder meetings that count but, even more, the firm’s continued inclusion of fossil-fuel companies in the index funds where its passive-investment clients park their money.
That’s the real ballgame: the world’s largest collection of money continues to behave as if the corporations rapidly destroying the planet are normal players. It’s time to scratch Exxon and their ilk from the lineup.