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AG Coalition Objects to Climate Change-Based ESG Investments

  • A group of 19 AGs, led by Arizona AG Mark Brnovich and Nebraska AG Doug Peterson, sent a letter to Laurence D. Fink, CEO of BlackRock, Inc., seeking clarification on whether BlackRock’s actions violate state laws in that they are motivated by interests other than maximizing financial return.
  • The letter requests clarification on statements made by Mark McCombe, BlackRock’s Chief Client Officer, to different states describing BlackRock’s position on energy investments with respect to pension funds in a manner that appears to conflict with BlackRock’s previous public statements and commitments. Specifically, the letter observes that BlackRock’s statement that it is agnostic on energy issues differs from BlackRock’s public commitments to accelerate net zero emissions across all of its assets, regardless of client wishes.
  • The letter details the AGs’ concerns that the firm’s stated commitment to influencing the companies in which it invests to take action to combat climate change contradicts its goal of obtaining the best possible return on investment for state pensions and retirement plans. The letter also alleges that in pursuing a policy of taking action on climate change, BlackRock is acting with mixed motives and failing to discharge their fiduciary duty of providing benefits to participants and beneficiaries. Further, by basing its actions on climate policies, BlackRock is taking action based on unsupported assumptions, and by acting in concert with other financial institutions promoting a climate change agenda, may be raising antitrust concerns as well.