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[en] BlackRock CEO Larry Fink recently announced in his annual letter to clients that the asset manager would seek to align its portfolio with a net zero economy. Policy announcements also included a promise to hold portfolio companies accountable for setting net zero plans and a commitment to increase oversight of companies with 'significant climate-related risk' and support more shareholder climate resolutions. These new measures imply huge changes for BlackRock as they require its investments to quickly become compatible with a 1.5 deg. C world, which is far from being the case. Unfortunately, BlackRock has yet to clearly define what net zero means, or to establish short and medium term benchmarks that would reduce overall emissions in line with climate science. Furthermore, the new measures still provide a way out to major polluters, as BlackRock has still not taken any steps to exclude climate laggards in the short term. There is not enough time left regarding our climate goals for engagement strategies directed at companies in the fossil fuel sector that have no viable net zero transition pathway, such as companies actively expanding fossil fuel exploration and production. Over the next few years, concrete steps will need to be taken by BlackRock as it is highly unlikely that continuing to shrug off responsibilities will really lead to the 'tectonic shift' in investing required in the short term. Embarking on a net zero pathway has immediate implications for BlackRock, as fossil fuel production needs to quickly wind down. The 2020 Production Gap Report, published with the UNEP, shows that, alarmingly, major fossil fuel producing countries are still planning for an average annual fossil fuel production increase of 2%. By 2030, this would result in more than double the fossil fuel production than would be consistent with the 1.5 deg. C limit. It is therefore highly inconsistent for financial actors which have committed to become net zero by 2050 to continue to invest in major fossil fuel developers in 2021, and especially companies involved in unconventional oil and gas development. As outlined by recent research by HSBC, 'it will be difficult for net zero committed institutions to justify holding oil and gas issuers in net-zero portfolios'. It is well past time for BlackRock to exit any company planning to develop new fossil fuel reserves and infrastructure and not complying with a robust fossil fuel phase out plan. The tar sands sector is a key example of a sector that is clearly inconsistent with keeping global warming below 1.5 deg. C, as tar sands reserves are a ticking time bomb regarding climate objectives. Our research reveals that BlackRock is a massive supporter of the tar sands industry, with $75 billion of current holdings in 30 major tar sands production companies planning on developing new reserves. To be consistent with its net zero commitment, BlackRock will need to step up its ambition and stop fueling the tar sands sector and exacerbating the huge negative impacts on climate and human rights linked to its development.
[en] Reclaim Finance has published the first edition of a scorecard on leading asset managers' climate commitments, focusing on their approach to the coal sector. The report compares 29 asset managers, with a focus on the European market. The authors reveal that despite 16 asset managers holding long-term climate commitments, nearly all are failing to take the first step to making them a reality: exiting coal. This report was authored by Reclaim Finance in partnership with Re:Common, the Sunrise Project and Urgewald. Out of the 29 asset managers' policies assessed, not even half have adopted a public policy to phase out coal, despite 13 of them being members of the Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative (NZAMI) and four of the Paris Aligned Investment Initiative (PAII). Even worse, Vanguard, DWS and Allianz GI, whereas they are signatories to the NZAMI principles do not even have adopted any public coal policy. If half of the asset managers are publicly recommending that companies adopt Paris-aligned strategies and almost half of them also publicly state that they might take voting or divestment sanctions regarding climate issues, only two (Aviva Investors and Aberdeen SI) have started to specify the conditions for these sanctions to take place. But even existing coal exclusion policies are far from robust. The UNEP Production Gap report shows fossil fuel production must decrease by 6% annually until 2030 but only 6 of the 29 asset managers assessed are excluding companies with coal development plans whereas these companies are one of the biggest threats to climate. Another key problem is the partial coverage of coal policies: they apply to a very limited portion of their total portfolio. When looking at their 'passively' managed assets, which is a growing issue for the climate, the problem is obvious: only three asset managers, managing rather small amounts of 'passive' investments, apply their coal policy to all or most of their 'passive' investments. Overall, 18 asset managers do not have public rules to exclude coal from most of their 'passive' investments. The problem is similar with mandates: only eight asset managers assessed apply their exclusions by default to their investments via mandates. Altogether this means concretely than less than 25% of the total combined assets of all managers are currently covered by coal exclusion criteria. To remedy this situation, asset managers must immediately divest from companies developing coal projects and start divesting now from coal companies for a complete exit by 2030/2040. By that, the report specifically advocates asset manager to apply such recommendations to their whole portfolio. This also means dealing with the growing issue of 'passive' investment.
[en] With the Covid-19 crisis and its health, social and economic consequences, 2020 has demonstrated the urgent need to act to support the development of more just, united and sustainable societies. Unfortunately, the long-awaited leap has yet to come. As the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030 to follow a 1.5 deg. C consistent pathway, it is crucial that financial players put an end to their support to fossil fuel companies. They should both stop any support to coal and act with zero tolerance towards the companies expanding the most climate-damaging sectors, such as shale oil and gas. One year ago, on January 14, Larry Fink announced BlackRock was finally on its way to investing sustainably. The largest investor in the world, with $7.8 tn in assets under management, also published a coal policy, aiming at 'exiting thermal coal producers' but only excluding mining companies with more than 25% of revenues from coal production. To this day, BlackRock still has no policy regarding its investments in other fossil fuels. Reclaim Finance has conducted research on BlackRock's holdings (as of October 2020) to verify the real-world consequences of these announcements and assess the investor's exposure to the coal sector. Unfortunately, results show that even with this new policy, BlackRock remains a massive investor in coal companies and even in companies planning new coal projects, despite research showing that such projects are incompatible with any serious climate commitment. BlackRock has a major problem with its passively managed investments, which make it widely exposed to coal assets likely to become stranded. They also massively expose it to other fossil fuels, as even the most polluting companies are not excluded from BlackRock's investments. BlackRock's half-hearted steps in 2020 to invest more sustainably have proven to be superficial. Our analysis shows that the action taken is utterly insufficient to truly curb investments in the sector most problematic when it comes to climate change: fossil fuels. 2021 is a critical year for climate action, with new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions expected by private and state actors ahead of COP 26 in Glasgow. As a first step towards the necessary phase-out of fossil fuels investments, BlackRock must immediately step up the ambition of its global coal exclusion policy, by extending its scope to the entire coal value chain and to all its assets.
[fr]Avec la crise du covid-19 et ses consequences sanitaires, sociales et economiques, 2020 a demontre l'urgence d'agir pour soutenir le developpement de societes plus justes et plus durables. Malheureusement, le sursaut tant attendu n'est pas la. Nous savons desormais qu'une baisse annuelle de 6% de la production mondiale d'energies fossiles est necessaire entre 2020 et 2030 pour rester sur une trajectoire 1,5 deg. C. Il est donc crucial que les acteurs financiers mettent fin a leur soutien aux entreprises des energies fossiles. Ils doivent a la fois cesser tout soutien au charbon et acter une tolerance zero envers les entreprises qui developpent les secteurs les plus nefastes pour le climat, tels que le petrole et le gaz de schiste. Larry Fink annoncait il y a un an, le 14 janvier 2020, que BlackRock allait se transformer pour investir plus durablement. Le plus gros investisseur au monde, avec 7 800 milliards de dollars d'actifs sous gestion, publiait egalement une politique charbon, visant a 'desinvestir des producteurs de charbon thermique' mais n'excluant que les societes minieres tirant plus de 25% de leurs revenus de la production de charbon. A ce jour, BlackRock n'a toujours pas de politique concernant ses investissements dans les autres energies fossiles. Reclaim Finance a passe au crible les investissements de BlackRock (a octobre 2020) pour verifier les consequences reelles de ces annonces et evaluer l'exposition de l'investisseur au secteur du charbon. Malheureusement, les resultats montrent que malgre sa nouvelle politique, BlackRock reste un investisseur massif dans les entreprises du secteur du charbon. Ses investissements dans les entreprises qui continuent de developper de nouveaux projets lies au charbon sont egalement eleves, alors que ces projets sont incompatibles avec tout engagement serieux en faveur du climat. BlackRock a un gros probleme avec sa gestion passive, qui l'expose fortement a des actifs charbon susceptibles de devenir bloques - des 'stranded assets'. Ses fonds geres passivement l'exposent aussi massivement a d'autres energies fossiles, les entreprises les plus polluantes de ces secteurs n'etant pas exclues des investissements de BlackRock. Les mesures timides prises par BlackRock en 2020 pour investir plus durablement se sont revelees superficielles. Ces mesures sont insuffisantes pour freiner de facon efficace les investissements dans le secteur le plus problematique en matiere de changement climatique: les energies fossiles. 2021 est une annee cruciale pour l'action climatique, avec de nouveaux engagements de reduction des emissions de GES d'acteurs prives et publics attendus pour la COP 26 a Glasgow. Comme premiere etape vers la fin necessaire des investissements dans les energies fossiles, BlackRock doit immediatement renforcer l'ambition de sa politique globale d'exclusion du charbon, en etendant son champ d'application a l'ensemble du secteur du charbon et a tous ses actifs sous gestion.