BlackRock Holds $85 Billion in Coal Investments Despite Climate Pledge

The firm has been accused of “greenwashing” for retaining investments in coal companies on a loophole.

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has been accused of “greenwashing” its investment activities in a report showing that it continues to hold as much as $85 billion worth of investments in coal companies.

The report, which was published by NGOs Reclaim Finance and Urgewald on Wednesday, revealed that the company’s climate policy contains a loophole allowing it to hold shares in companies that earn less than a quarter of their revenues from coal. As a result, it has retained shares or bonds in many notable coalminers and polluters.

BlackRock still holds investments in BHP, Glencore, RWE, Adani and other companies involved in the fossil fuel industry.

The findings come a year after BlackRock chairman and CEO Larry Fink wrote a letter to clients claiming that sustainability had become the firm’s “new standard for investing.” As part of its new climate policies, it abandoned all of its actively managed investments in companies making more than 25% of their revenues from coal and introduced a range of new ESG fund options for clients to invest in.

However, the campaigners who carried out the latest research are now calling for BlackRock to divest fully from coal, including from companies like Japan’s Sumitomo and Korea’s Kepco that are planning to expand coal production. BlackRock holds $24 billion in assets in such companies.

Lara Cuvelier, a sustainable investment campaigner at Reclaim Finance, said BlackRock should fully distance itself from coal as a “bare minimum” change as global temperatures rise.

“One year on, it’s hard to see Larry Fink’s sustainability commitment as anything other than greenwashing,” Cuvelier said in a statement. “If he really wants BlackRock to be a climate leader instead of a climate pariah, he needs to start aligning green words with green deeds, and direct BlackRock’s awesome financial power towards a sustainable future.”

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