Every year, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink releases a highly anticipated letter to CEOs and clients. In this year's letter, out yesterday, Fink announced that the asset management giant would change direction. Currently one of the world's largest investors in coal, oil, gas and climate-destabilizing deforestation, BlackRock will make sustainability its "new standard for investing," Fink promised.
Fink pledged that the company's actively managed funds would divest from any company that makes more than 25% of its revenue from thermal coal. If the $7 trillion asset management company follows through on that promise, it will be one of the largest ever divestments from coal and an important step toward reshaping our economy away from fossil fuels and toward climate sanity. And it represents a significant change from just a year ago when Fink's annual letter didn't even mention climate change.
But as we celebrate Fink's announcement, let's also keep in mind Greta Thunberg's words at this year's United Nations climate summit in Madrid. "The biggest danger is not inaction," she said. "The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening, when in fact almost nothing is being done, apart from clever accounting and creative PR."
Instead of looking for hope from corporations, Thunberg advised, we should look for it from one another, like the millions of people who striked from school and work to demand climate action, including from BlackRock.
Because that's what sparked Fink's announcement. The moral and economic case for divesting from coal was clear in 2019. The biggest thing that changed between now and then is that a diverse coalition of frontline youth activists, parents and even the Vatican ramped up the pressure. As fires burned in the Amazon, fueled by BlackRock's investments, we called for change at their offices. Yesterday we saw our impact.