Climate change can no longer be ignored by the world's investors and business leaders....
That's the call coming out Tuesday from BlackRock, the world's largest investment manger - with $7 trillion worth of assets under management.
In his annual letter to CEOs, BlackRock's influential chief executive Larry Fink not only warned company boards to step up efforts to tackle climate change, he said his firm intends to be part of a "fundamental reshaping of finance" and would end investments that jeopardize the environment such as thermal coal producers.
But Reuters Breakingviews columnist George Hay says Fink didn't come to this conclusion on his own.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): GEORGE HAY, COLUMNIST, REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING:
"What's certainly been the case in 2019 you saw it quite a lot was a lot of activists and more kind of sustainably-focused investors - calling out BlackRock and saying: 'you're not doing quite enough. You need to do a bit more in terms of engaging with the companies that you invest in because you're such a big player and you've got a big role to play' and BlackRock was seen as not supporting enough of the climate-change related resolutions that these sustainable investors were making."
PROTEST UPSOUND (OCTOBER 14, 2019): "BlackRock divest now! BlackRock divest now!"
Fink seems to have gotten the message and on Tuesday urged "every government, company and shareholder must confront climate change."
Because of BlackRock's sheer size - activists praise the move as a possible game changer in the fight to tackle climate change that could encourage other large investors to do the same.
But said BlackRock must now back its new stance by voting in favor of proposals to get corporations to divest from operations that contribute to global warming - including efforts aimed at forcing lenders to stop providing financing to the fossil fuel industry.
No word yet from the investment giant on which companies it would pull investment money from and the size of those positions.