Blackrock: Investors Cannot ‘’Run Away’’ From Oil Industry

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By Tsvetana Paraskova BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, will continue to work with oil and gas firms in order to help them through the energy transition, Reuters quoted chief executive Larry Fink as saying on Thursday. BlackRock is a major shareholder in many large oil and gas companies, including in the two U.S. supermajors, ExxonMobil and Chevron. Investors cannot “run away” from the oil and gas industry, Fink said. Most of the decarbonization costs now fall on the private sector, the executive added, and suggested that governments should be more involved in the energy transition. In his 2021 letter to CEOs earlier this year, Fink said, “we are asking companies to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy.” BlackRock is “carbon neutral today in our own operations and are committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner,” Fink noted in his letter to CEOs. Last week, BlackRock supported activist investor Engine No.1 at the shareholders’ meeting of Exxon, which resulted in the investor taking board seats at the U.S. supermajor. BlackRock backed three of Engine No. 1’s four board nominees and said, “We continue to be concerned about Exxon’s strategic direction and the anticipated impact on its long-term financial performance and competitiveness.” The asset manager also voted for a shareholder proposal for Exxon to report on corporate climate lobbying aligned with the Paris Agreement because “we believe such a report would help investors’ understanding of Exxon’s climate-related lobbying and participation in trade associations.” BlackRock supported a similar vote at the Chevron annual general meeting, at which shareholders filed a non-binding proposal requesting that Chevron report on how the company’s direct and indirect lobbying align with the Paris Climate Agreement goals. BlackRock sees Chevron as “a leader among US peers with regard to board oversight of climate risk,” but noted that “One additional area that we believe would strengthen the company’s disclosure is additional transparency around political spending and lobbying related to climate risk and the low carbon transition.”

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