by Jason Cohen
Investing giant BlackRock’s board of directors recommended voting against two climate report proposals at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, and investors followed the firm’s advice.
Each proposal demanded reports from BlackRock; left-wing activist organization CODEPINK requested a report from BlackRock concerning the climate-related risks of its aerospace fund. Paul Rissman, co-founder of Rights CoLab and a fellow for the George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations, requested a report on engineering decarbonization and its impact on pension fund returns; BlackRock’s board of directors recommended voting against both because the firm argued they do not provide the best results for shareholders.
BlackRock said these two proposals garnered under 10% support, according to Reuters.
CODEPINK demanded BlackRock release a report on climate costs related to its aerospace fund, alleging that investing in BlackRock’s iShares U.S. Defense and Aerospace exchange-traded fund (ITA) “raised concerns” regarding “the global human cost of the defense and aerospace industry vis à vis the climate crisis” in their proposal.
“It should go without saying that the development of bombs and nuclear weapons threatens life on Earth,” a spokesperson for CODEPINK told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “That is precisely what they’re designed to do, with terrifying efficiency. What often goes unreported is that all of the infrastructure that goes into making war harms and kills people, and animal, and plant life, including US citizens, before it is ever deployed for war.”
BlackRock acknowledges ITA “does not follow a sustainable investment strategy,” but it stated in its opposition statement that it believes clients should have the option to invest in various funds that assist them in reaching their goals. The firm also stated it had more than 400 sustainable funds as of December.
BlackRock must evaluate the risks and publish a report on them, according to CODEPINK’s proposal. “The report should display both a) the immediate environmental and human impacts of weaponry developed by companies listed in ITA, as well as b) the short- and long-term effects of GHG emissions resulting from ITA-funded weaponry and aerospace development, in terms which make clear the human harm caused by these GHG emissions.”
BlackRock claimed that a substantial portion of the data CODEPINK asked for is already available.
BlackRock also recommended voting against the proposal by Rissman to generate a report detailing “whether and how BlackRock could improve its pension fund clients’ investment returns, by focusing its climate-related investment stewardship and proxy voting to ‘engineer decarbonization in the real economy’…thereby improving financial returns to BlackRock shareholders.”
Many Republican attorneys general have pushed back against environmental initiatives led by BlackRock and others, claiming they do not maximize return on investment for pensioners.
BlackRock stated their “role is to focus on achieving the best long-term investment performance for our clients; it is not to engineer real world decarbonization.”
“We urge shareholders concerned with potential reputational and financial damage to BlackRock, due to its refusal to engineer real world decarbonization on behalf of pension client portfolios, to support this resolution,” Rissman’s proposal concluded.
“Proposals like those lodged at Blackrock’s 2023 Shareholder’s Meeting are a salient reminder that bending the knee to diffuse stakeholder interests is an invitation for ideological creep in US corporations,” Director of Corporate Governance at Strive Asset Management Cory Skerl told the DCNF. “The sole remedy is realignment to focus on shareholder value creation as a lynchpin of efficient capital markets in America.”
Paul Rissman did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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Jason Cohen is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Exterior of BlackRock” by Americasroof. CC BY-SA 3.0.