Last week, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander sent a letter to BlackRock raising his concerns that the firm is backtracking on its climate commitments.
New York City’s net zero by 2040 pledge is threatened by BlackRock’s looming failure to honor its own net zero commitments. The comptroller is therefore reassessing the city’s business relationships, with BlackRock as the city’s largest asset manager responsible for $43 billion in assets topping the list.
“The fundamental contradiction between BlackRock’s statements and actions is alarming,” Lander wrote in his letter. “BlackRock cannot simultaneously declare that climate risk is a systemic financial risk and argue that BlackRock has no role in mitigating the risks that climate change poses to its investments by supporting decarbonization in the real economy.”
Lander rightfully went on to point out that the duty of a fiduciary to address systemic risk is not political, it is imperative. He also noted that unless BlackRock pledged to explicitly include the high emitters in its portfolio in its Net Zero Asset Manager initiative 2030 target, the firm’s commitment was “not worth the paper it’s written on.”
Reproduced below are the New York City Comptroller’s three main asks of BlackRock. They are just a portion of the full letter.
Our Ask to BlackRock
- Publish an implementation plan that makes clear BlackRock’s commitment to achieving net zero across its entire portfolio, with concrete steps that detail how it intends to reach science-based targets on a specific timeframe, and clear mechanisms to regularly report on Scopes 1, 2, and 3 emissions for all assets in BlackRock’s portfolio.
- Provide a detailed approach to keeping fossil fuel reserves in the ground and phasing out high-emitting assets.
- Support climate action through transparent corporate engagement that requires disclosure of climate-related lobbying, works to end lending and insurance for new fossil fuel supply projects, and pushes for science-based targets at portfolio companies.
These actions would signal to investors that BlackRock is taking seriously the long-term implications of climate change.