Youth climate groups urge Larry Fink to not just talk but act, and fight for the future they deserve.
Dear Laurence D. Fink,
You have been married to your wife, Lori Fink, since the 70s, when you would have been around my age. You have three sons. Your mother was an English professor, your father owned a shoe store. You attended UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. You’re from California, like myself. Recently I have come to the realization that you and I aren’t so different.
You are the American dream personified.
My name is Carrie Ramirez. I was born in San Francisco, California almost 19 years ago to an immigrant family who dared to dream the same American dream. Although their dream hasn’t played out the same as yours, they have given me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. I am doing this now as I attend my local community college and, like you, major in Political Science.
As my whole life lays itself in front of me, I dream of the same things as my mother before me. To marry someone I truly love, to own a house, to have children, and a job that I truly care for. I want to eventually retire, leaving my family the comfort of a home.
I want this future for myself, for my mother and my father. I want this future for my children and my grandchildren that may live after me. I want this future for my ancestors before me, and for my bloodline after.
But despite these dreams, I question how I could become a mother and raise children if our planet is unhealthy and uninhabitable. Scientists are telling us that we only have 10 years to make sharp reductions in carbon emissions before there is irreversible damage to our planet due to climate change. Despite growing evidence that our world is on track for catastrophic temperature rise, world political leaders continue to fail us as we just saw with the climate negotiations in Madrid. New studies suggest that the Arctic may already be crossing a key tipping point, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air as permafrost melts. I am entering adulthood at a time when business as usual is a direct threat to my future and my life.
Although we have things in common, our realities are very different. My reality and my dreams may never merge for the smog in the air makes it hard to breathe. The smoke makes things too hard to see as Paradise, California burns just in front of me. The water from the stream contaminated with oil. Fish discolored and bruised. I am no longer surrounded by fertile land but by fire and oil. I am surrounded by images of death and destruction. I hope that understanding my reality more will inspire you to act differently in yours.
Your company is the biggest investor in the industries driving the climate crisis. You have a responsibility, as well as the power to make positive change. I am sure that you know this because tens of thousands of people around the world are forcing you to notice. Academics, government institutions, and other investors have been calling you out for your lack of action. Youth leaders and frontline communities have been reminding you every week by showing up at your offices, blockading doors, and begging you to act.
Your company is also an investor in private prisons. The same private prisons that have been holding children and people of color in inhumane conditions, traumatizing them, and at times, causing their deaths. By being the number one investor in coal, rainforest deforestation, and private prisons, you and your company are directly perpetuating systems of injustice that those within my community are forced to survive under.
I am one of the many youth activists coming to your doors, demanding that you take responsibility for your role in the destruction of our planet. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean empty words and no action. We demand time bound changes. That includes: stop investing in climate destroying and socially unconscionable industries; end your greenwashing; use your voice on the world stage to stand with us and lead the financial industry away from business as usual.
I dream the same dreams as your family, and you can help ensure that my future allows me the opportunity to work toward those dreams. It’s not only me asking for your help. There are so many others just like me, and we refuse to let our dreams and our futures fade into ash because you, and others in power, undervalue the lives of black and indigenous people of color, the lives of the working class, and the lives of our generation.
Any day now you will be releasing your annual letter. Last year you wrote about the importance of corporate responsibility, and all year we have been asking you to live up to your own words. So far you have failed. Will 2020 be different? Your recent announcement of joining Climate Action 100+ is a first step, but it is not enough. This year you must make real and immediate change to BlackRock’s investment models. Words without action are meaningless. The world’s eyes are on you and this year’s letter must detail real commitments, not just vague niceties.
It is not enough to simply say the right things, you have to act. I am one voice in a global movement that is fighting for the future we all deserve. We are not just a crowd in front of your offices, we are humans, just like you and your children. We are scared for our lives, and we are no longer asking for you to do something, but demanding that you and your company do the right thing and divest from the destruction of our planet and the death of our communities. Countless fighters for justice are watching you. Work with us and use your power to preserve a future where we can all continue to chase our dreams.
Signed in support by:
- Youth Vs. Apocalypse
- Boston Climate Strike
- Catholic Divestment Network
- Climate Justice at Boston College
- Divest Ed
- Earth Guardians
- Extinction Rebellion Youth SF Bay
- Fridays For Future DC
- Fridays For Future Tavernier
- Houston Climate Strike Team
- Sierra Student Coalition
- SIU SENSE (Students Embracing Nature, Sustainability, and Environmentalism)
- Sunrise Movement Bay Area
- Sustain US
- UK Student Climate Coalition
- Youth Climate Strike LA
- Zero Hour