World’s largest investor loses $90bn in fossil fuels

The world’s largest fund manager, BlackRock, has lost more than $90bn (£74bn) investing in fossil fuel companies over the 10 years, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Finance (IEEFA).

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In a report published today, the IEEFA said that investments in ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell were responsible for 75% of the losses, and that these companies have all underperforming over the last decade.

The researchers also claimed that six of BlackRock’s 18 board members have worked in companies with strong ties to the fossil fuel sector, and that it should remove their “excessive” influence.

Moreover, just 0.8% of BlackRock’s $6.5trn portfolio – which is more valuable than Japan’s entire economy – is invested in environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds.

The report's co-author, Tim Buckley, said that the investor remains a “laggard” when it comes to addressing climate risk, and urged it to show greater leadership.

“If the world’s largest investor makes it clear the rules have changes, than other significant investors like Fidelity will rapidly replicate and reinforce these moves,” he added.

The report also claims that BlackRock lost its investors over $2bn when Peabody Energy went bankrupt in 2016, and another $19bn by investing in General Electric.

BlackRock maintains that it has little control over its $4.3trn passively managed portfolio, yet leading peers have done more to ensure low-carbon investments, according to the researchers.

Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global is just one of several investors to show leadership on this issue after it recently announced that it would divest from oil and gas.

The IEEFA urged BlackRock to introduce low-emission index benchmarks for its passive funds as a financial best practice to become an innovative leader once again.

“As the world’s largest universal owner, BlackRock wields an enormous amount of influence and shoulders a huge responsibility to the wider community,” Buckley said.

“In our view, it is BlackRock’s fiduciary duty as a global leader to lead."

 

Image credit: iStock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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