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In his highly influential annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink laid out an ambitious plan to combat climate change by pushing companies to make explicit plans for how their businesses will survive as the global economy works toward eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In the letter, Fink called on companies to “disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net zero economy.”
The letter defines a “net zero economy” as one where global warming is below 2 degrees Celsius and greenhouse gas emissions have reached net zero by 2050.
He warned that companies without a clear plan to address this transition will “see their valuations suffer” as customers, shareholders, policymakers and employees lose confidence in the business.
Fink said BlackRock will publish a “temperature alignment metric” for its public equity and bond funds and create new investment products designed with those net-zero goals in mind.
This year’s letter echoes themes from Fink’s 2020 letter, where he said that climate change would be “a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects” and pledged to refocus BlackRock’s investments with sustainability in mind.
“I believe that the pandemic has presented such an existential crisis—such a stark reminder of our fragility—that it has driven us to confront the global threat of climate change more forcefully and to consider how, like the pandemic, it will alter our lives,” Fink wrote.
$7.8 trillion. That’s how much money BlackRock oversees, making it the world’s biggest asset manager. The New York Times notes that those assets, which make BlackRock “arguably the world’s most powerful investor,” mean that Fink’s letter could have a major impact on corporate behavior in the coming months.
President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord—an agreement adopted by nearly 200 countries in 2015 designed to curb the effects of climate change—as one of his first acts after taking office last week and on Wednesday will announce new executive actions as part of his agenda to fight climate change. That’s a major change from the Trump administration, which over the course of four years rolled back 112 environment rules, the New York Times reported. A renewed federal focus on climate change means that companies could soon be subject to new rules and regulations, and in his letter Fink suggested that they “move quickly” to improve and issue sustainability disclosures before federal regulators force the issue.