NYC comptroller accuses BlackRock of ‘backtracking’ over climate commitments
ESG battle between US red and blue states continues with Brad Lander’s letter to Larry Fink.
New York City comptroller Brad Lander has written to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink expressing his concern that the investment manager is “backtracking on its climate commitments”.
The correspondence was sent in response to an earlier letter from BlackRock to the attorneys general of 19 US states. BlackRock’s letter denied accusations that it was boycotting fossil fuel-based companies and stated that it doesn’t “dictate to companies what specific emission targets they should meet”.
In his letter, Lander requested “immediate action” from BlackRock to live up to its previously stated commitments on climate change.
He wrote: “If we do not find a way to dramatically reduce carbon emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement, the harm will not only be measured in lives lost and people displaced; it will also be measured in trillions of dollars lost in our collective portfolios.”
Lander called on BlackRock to: publish an implementation plan that gives a clear commitment to achieving net-zero emissions across its entire portfolio; provide a detailed approach to keeping fossil fuel reserves in the ground and phasing out high-emitting assets; and support climate action through “transparent corporate engagement”.
Red vs blue states
As comptroller, Lander is the city’s budget watchdog and chief accountability officer. He is a Democrat politician and is thus continuing the battle between “red” and “blue” states in the US over environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
According to Lander: “The attorneys general from Arizona, Nebraska, Kentucky and 16 other states who wrote to BlackRock on August 4, 2022, are waging a war of political distraction in the hopes of protecting the fossil fuel interests that have captured their states.”
BlackRock is the largest asset manager for three NYC pension funds, covering teachers, state employees and civil servants, and manages $43bn of their investments.
Net Zero Investor approached BlackRock for a response but has not yet received one.