BlackRock, the massive asset manager in charge of $7 trillion, will ditch investments that it considers a sustainability risk, including thermal coal producers — part of an effort to put sustainability at the center of its approach to investing.
“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” CEO Larry Fink said in his widely-read letter to other chief executives released Tuesday.
The news came as industrial giant Siemens says it will create a committee focusing on making environmentally friendly deals.
Fink predicted that significant changes to how capital is allocated globally are coming, and “sooner than most anticipate.”
Other pledges: BlackRock told clients that it intends to double its offering of exchange-traded funds that track companies that meet certain environmental metrics. It’s also asking the companies it invests in to disclose plans for operating in a world in which the Paris Agreement’s goal of limited global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius “is fully realized.”
“We will be increasingly disposed to vote against management and board directors when companies are not making sufficient progress on sustainability-related disclosures and the business practices and plans underlying them,” Fink said.
BlackRock has faced growing pressure to do more to promote sustainability given its clout. “I think the large passive managers have a real difficult decision to make,” former US Vice President Al Gore told the Financial Times in December. “Do they want to continue to finance the destruction of human civilization, or not?”
Earlier this month, BlackRock joined Climate Action 100+, a group of roughly 370 global investors that now represents more than $41 trillion in assets. Its members lobby companies to lower their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.
What it means: An industry leader, BlackRock’s actions turn up the heat on other big asset managers. Fink’s 2018 letter arguing that companies need to “serve a social purpose” resonated widely.
BlackRock reports earnings for the final three months of 2019 on Wednesday.