Activists protest BlackRock’s ‘hot air’ on climate change

Activists protest BlackRock’s ‘hot air’ on climate change

Socially distanced demonstrations in NYC, San Francisco, London, Brussels mock BlackRock’s climate rhetoric on day of annual general meeting

In a series of demonstrations after BlackRock’s annual shareholder meeting today, activists in New York City, San Francisco, and London staged socially distanced protests to criticize the financial giant’s failure to live up to its rhetoric on climate change. In January, CEO Larry Fink spoke to the urgency of climate change and said BlackRock would put sustainability at the center of its investment strategy, but its actions since then, including highly-scrutinized shareholder votes at high-profile companies, have failed to live up to its talk. 

“So far BlackRock’s big talk on climate change is a lot of hot air. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink can’t hide behind rhetoric without meaningful climate action. That’s why we brought a hot air balloon to BlackRock’s headquarters today,” said Pete Sikora from New York Communities for Change (NYCC), a community organization. “COVID is a horror for our city. It is also a preview of the accelerating climate crisis, which BlackRock is fueling by putting more money into fossil fuels than any other investor.”

In New York City, a handful of activists from NYCC, Sunrise Movement, and Rise & Resist floated a 10 foot tall hot air balloon with a banner reading “BlackRock: Hot Air on Climate” in front of BlackRock’s headquarters. In San Francisco, activists with Friends of the Earth painted a mural and displayed banners in front of local BlackRock offices with the same message. In London and Brussels activists held banners in front of local BlackRock offices blasting the company as “still the world’s #1 investor in fossil fuels.” All the protests practiced strict social distancing, limiting the number of people involved while implementing protocols for safety including the use of masks and gloves.

“This message to BlackRock is in solidarity with essential workers and environmental defenders everywhere. Covid-19 is a terrifying manifestation of how quickly our global systems can break down, with the greatest burden falling on those already economically disenfranchised,” said Jeff Conant, Senior International Forest Program Director with Friends of the Earth. “We may be hunkering down, but we will not be idle or silent. BlackRock is responsible, through its irresponsible investments, for the suffering of vulnerable communities everywhere and we will not accept its hot air on climate.”  

On Wednesday over a thousand people signed up for the virtual “People’s Assembly on BlackRock” which featured Congressman Jesus “Chuy” García (D-IL), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Indigenous and community leaders from the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, and Liberia. Speaker after speaker called out BlackRock for its actions not living up to its rhetoric on the urgency of the climate crisis. During the assembly members of the BlackRock’s Big Problem network outlined the questions they submitted to BlackRock’s AGM which took place this morning. Larry Fink spoke to several of the questions during the Q&A portion of the meeting. 

“Larry Fink’s answers to our questions this morning show that BlackRock’s actions just don’t live up to the urgency of the climate crisis. While BlackRock is tweaking its investment models and talking about transparency, the Bay of Bengal is being hammered by a hurricane, Michigan is flooding after record storms, and fires in the Amazon this summer are predicted to be worse than ever,” said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch. “The time for rhetoric and baby steps is long gone. BlackRock has to make substantial changes to its entire investment model in order to be the climate leader it claims to be.” 

Photos from today’s protests are here

Recording of Wednesday’s People’s Assembly on BlackRock is here.

Communications Contact: Erin Jensen, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]


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