BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, made headlines early this year when it pledged to prioritize climate change in its investments and pare down its coal holdings.
But environmentalists say the company has failed to make good on this promise in a series of shareholder proposals at annual meetings this year.
Led by influential Wall Street player Larry Fink and overseeing some $7.3 trillion in assets, BlackRock in January vowed to take action to address climate change and sustainable development, raising the hopes of environmentalists.
“We applauded BlackRock for its statement at the beginning of this year…. and we acknowledge that they have taken some steps in that direction,” said Ben Cushing, who leads the Sierra Club’s financial advocacy campaign.
“But clearly it has not translated into fast-enough, or bold-enough action.”
Part of the skepticism comes from BlackRock’s response to shareholder proposals to require companies to take action on the environment.
BlackRock supported only 13 percent of the green-oriented resolutions in 2020, down from 20 percent in 2019, according to Proxy Insight, which tracks global shareholder voting.
A September report from non-governmental organization Majority Action said the New York financial giant backed only three of 36 resolutions on climate change in proxy votes of S&P 500 companies.
And though BlackRock signed on to Climate Action 100+, a global investor engagement initiative, the company supported just two of 12 resolutions presented by the coalition.
BlackRock holds shares in numerous large companies, including Apple, Facebook and Exxon Mobil, as well as ConocoPhillips and Nike.
Cushing said BlackRock could make a big difference if its actions match its rhetoric.