Tuesday 14 July 2020 1:59 pm

Blackrock punishes 53 companies over inaction on climate change

Blackrock has punished more than 50 companies over their inaction on global warming after warning of huge investment risks from climate change.

In January chief executive Larry Fink said Blackrock would get tough on companies that were too slow to take action on climate change. It announced it would put environmental strategy at the core of its investment strategy.

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Its change in strategy came after criticism the asset manager had failed to use its power. At the time, Fink said climate change represented an unprecedented risk to markets. 

“Climate change is different. Even if only a fraction of the projected impacts is realised, this is a much more structural, long-term crisis,” Fink said. 

In a report released on Tuesday, the asset manager said it had placed 244 companies “on watch” for insufficient progress on issues relating to climate change. Blackrock said it took voting action at the annual meetings of 53 companies, largely taking action through voting against the re-elections of directors.

The companies punished included German carmaker Daimler, Volvo and ExxonMobil.

The asset manager said the remaining 191 companies “risk voting action in 2021 if they do not make substantial progress.”

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“Our approach on climate issues, in particular, is to focus our efforts on sectors and companies where climate change poses the greatest material risk to our clients’ investments,” Blackrock said.

The asset manager was previously criticised for failing to support several climate change resolutions, including at oil companies Santos and Woodside Energy. Blackrock voted against proposals to set targets in line with the Paris agreement, which aims to limit global temperatures.

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