With trillions of dollars under management, institutional investors play a pivotal role in enabling the climate crisis by financing fossil fuels and agribusiness. These industries are responsible for increasing greenhouse gas emissions, widespread environmental destruction, and gross human rights abuses. Increasingly, activists, shareholder advocates, and policymakers are seeking to stop the pipeline of money flowing to the companies and industries most responsible for the climate crisis. The role of large asset managers such as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street in bankrolling the climate emergency has rightly made them targets of campaigns demanding they divest from fossil fuels, defund deforestation, and respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Investing directly in the companies responsible for the climate crisis is not the only way large asset managers are fueling global instability. BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street also facilitate human rights violations through their support of the border and surveillance industry. This industry is in the business of separating families, eroding civil liberties, and promoting systemic racism and ethnonationalism around the world.
The climate crisis is a cascading set of risks to people and the planet, disproportionately impacting those that have contributed least to the crisis. As climate change continues to impact migration and displacement, an intersectional, rights-based approach rooted in principles of climate justice is critical to transform financial institutions and economic systems.
In a warming world subject to increasing natural disasters and extreme weather events, migration is a form of climate adaptation. As momentum builds for wealthy, high-emitting countries to pay for the loss and damage caused by climate change and to provide adaptation financing, creating safe pathways for people to live in dignity is essential. For financial institutions, this means not only phasing out investments in fossil fuels and destructive agribusiness, but also withdrawing financial support from the border surveillance industry.
Just as environmental movements reject the idea of sacrifice zones from pollution and environmental devastation, so too should we reject the notion of sacrificial populations. A just response to the climate crisis requires active resistance to militarized borders and the surveillance and criminalization of migrants.