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BlackRock pushes companies to set more ambitious climate targets

·1-min read
BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink has warned of the impacts of climate change but also been criticized for investing in coal

The head of the world's largest asset manager BlackRock on Tuesday called for companies to explain how they plan to reduce their net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

"I believe that the pandemic has presented such an existential crisis -- such a stark reminder of our fragility -- that it has driven us to confront the global threat of climate change more forcefully and to consider how, like the pandemic, it will alter our lives," Larry Fink wrote in his annual letter to chief executives.

"We are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy," said Fink, whose firm manages nearly $8.7 trillion of assets on behalf of pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, local authorities and wealthy investors.

Referring to recent climate-related disasters like "fires, droughts, flooding and hurricanes," Fink noted that energy companies have already taken "billions in climate-related write-downs on stranded assets and regulators focus on climate risk in the global financial system."

As the Covid-19 pandemic began in March, Fink said the "conventional wisdom" was that it would divert attention from efforts to fight climate change.

"But just the opposite took place, and the reallocation of capital accelerated even faster than I anticipated," he said, pointing to a jump in sustainable investing.

Fink said the fund itself will take steps to achieve the objective of zero net emissions by 2050, including by communicating the proportion of assets under management that are currently aligned with this objective.

The statement reiterates comments Fink first made last year, but BlackRock is often accused of inconsistency in its approach to fighting climate change.

Advocacy group Reclaim Finance recently denounced BlackRock's $85 billion in coal industry investments.