German NGO Urgewald state in a Press Release that BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink “has not provided details on what it will consider acceptable regarding fossil fuel companies.” Blackrock has called for investee companies to adopt targets of net zero emissions by 2050 and said that action will be taken if such targets are not adopted.

Larry Fink’s new net-zero commitment could be a positive step if it were paired with concrete and immediate action to stop investing in new fossil fuels. But a year after its first, extremely weak coal commitment, BlackRock has yet to announce a more ambitious policy. Rather, BlackRock’s $24bn investments in coal expansion are a perfect illustration of how investors can hide behind ESG credentials and net-zero commitments. Whilst new commitments on voting are welcome, there is no time left to engage with companies that are still actively building new coal projects, with climate scientists stating since 2015 that new coal is incompatible with the Paris objectives.” said Lara Cuvelier, sustainable investments campaigner at Reclaim Finance.

From Press Release:

Research published in January by NGOs Reclaim Finance and Urgewald shows that despite BlackRock’s pledge to exit investments in thermal coal, $85bn of assets managed by BlackRock are still invested in the coal industry. Among its investees are some of the biggest coal producers in the world such as Adani, with a shocking $24bn invested in companies that have coal expansion plans, such as Sumitomo or KEPCO. And most importantly, BlackRock’s coal policy is not applied to its index funds and ETFs which account for more than $5.7tn out of the $8.6tn the firm is managing (2).

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No more time left
With COP26 looming, campaigners insist that BlackRock’s priority should be to exit coal once and for all, as a first concrete step towards its 2050 commitment. Larry Fink’s letter, they argue, shows that BlackRock isn’t serious yet about tackling its addiction to fossil fuels, particularly coal, despite a welcome recognition of the need for climate action.

Katrin Ganswindt, campaigner at Urgewald, said:

It’s a positive sign that BlackRock wants to take its immense responsibility for our climate as the world’s largest asset manager more seriously. What is still lacking, however, are concrete steps on how BlackRock intends to exclude Europe’s leading CO2 emitters such as RWE or CEZ or the entire US coal industry from its portfolio. Achieving net zero by 2050 could mean a lot of things, including offsetting rather than actually reducing emissions. To keep up with decent coal policies by other investors such as AXA, Union Investment or Allianz, BlackRock needs to do much more: ditch coal expansionists, start excluding coal power players and lower all thresholds for coal company exclusions close to zero by 2030. As it is now, we just don’t see BlackRock taking enough accountability yet,” says Katrin Ganswindt, Finance Campaigner at Urgewald.

Link to announcement here and letter to CEOs here.
2. BlackRock Q4 results can be found here.