Investors: Stop profiting from climate crisis and human rights abuses

IPCC wakeup call to investors: Stop profiting from climate crisis and human rights abuses

New report outlines how fossil fuel- and deforestation-friendly asset managers are also cashing in on the border and surveillance industry

WASHINGTON, LONDON — In response to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II report on climate impacts, Friends of the Earth US and Transnational Institute released new research calling for urgent action to rein in the financiers driving the climate emergency and profiting from its most devastating impacts.

The new report – Cashing in on Crisis: How the world’s largest investors fuel and profit from climate change and border militarization – highlights how asset managers BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street continue to finance the industries driving the climate crisis while profiting from violent and racist responses to migration through investments in border and surveillance companies. These major financiers are bankrolling corporations responsible for increased greenhouse gas emissions, gross human rights abuses, and violations of Indigenous peoples and local communities’ rights while facilitating the expansion of the security and surveillance state.

Cashing in on Crisis surveys the Big 3 asset managers’ investments in 15 companies within the fossil fuel, agribusiness, and border and surveillance sectors, revealing these investors’ expansive role in enabling global instability.

The research finds:

  • Collectively, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street hold more than $650 billion of shares in the 15 fossil fuel, agribusiness, and border and surveillance companies surveyed.
  • Vanguard is the largest investor in each sector analyzed.
  • Collectively, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street hold approximately 28%of shares in Chevron, 27% of shares in ExxonMobil and 28% of shares in ConocoPhillips – all fossil fuels giants that are among the top 20 contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Collectively, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street hold around 30% of shares in Archer-Daniels-Midland and 22% of shares in Bunge – agribusiness companies linked to rampant deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • Collectively, BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street hold approximately 32% of shares in CoreCivic and 38% of shares in GEO Group – companies that operate private prisons and migrant detention centers linked to widespread human rights abuses.

Gaurav Madan, senior Forests and Land Campaigner at Friends of the Earth US said:

As the impacts of the climate crisis intensify, institutional investors continue to hedge their bets on destructive fossil fuel and agribusiness investments while profiting from the border and surveillance industry, which enables the criminalization of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

The latest IPCC report is a stark reminder that climate change will not adhere to lines drawn on maps. As momentum builds for wealthy, high-emitting countries to pay for the loss and damage caused by climate change, creating safe pathways for people to live in dignity is essential. Just as environmental movements reject the idea of sacrifice zones from environmental destruction, so too should governments and investors reject the notion of sacrificial populations.

Nick Buxton, senior researcher at Transnational Institute added:

The world’s leaders are not just failing to act to stop the climate crisis, they are actively financing its destruction. The recent IPCC report shows that the gravitude of climate impacts will depend on political decisions and financial investments made in the next decade. Yet three giant investment funds continue to finance industries that deepen rather than avert the catastrophic consequences of a heating world. Rather than cashing in on the climate crisis, it is time for the world’s biggest financiers to divest from the industries that fuel and profit from it.

An accompanying video narrated by Youth Climate Activist Mitzi Jonelle Tan can be accessed here.

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, (202) 222-0746, [email protected]

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