Press Release Contact: Kyle W. Kempf, Green Century Capital Management, email@example.com, (617) 482-0800
Boston, December 20, 2019 – Green Century has filed a shareholder resolution with BlackRock regarding the company’s failure to act in accordance with its public pronouncements about the climate crisis and the risk it poses to corporations and investors.
“There’s a disturbing disconnect between BlackRock’s public posturing and its proxy voting and deficient corporate engagement,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich. “Investors cannot ignore the risk posed to corporations, investors, and the planet by the climate crisis. It’s time for BlackRock’s action to match its rhetoric.”
For several years, BlackRock has publicly acknowledged the impacts of climate change on portfolios. In 2016, BlackRock issued a white paper that concluded that “all investors should incorporate climate change awareness into their investment processes.” The following year, BlackRock identified climate risk disclosure as a priority for corporate engagement and, for the first time, voted its proxies on several climate-related shareholder resolutions.
Unfortunately, this action proved short-lived. While other institutional investors – Allianz,* UBS,* and Legal and General* – have supported a majority of climate resolutions, BlackRock supported only 11.5% of resolutions on climate change in 2019. In addition to lagging behind its peers, the dissonance between the company’s public statements and its actions poses potential reputational risk.
BlackRock’s voting record stands in stark contrast not only to BlackRock’s public comments on the risk that climate change poses, but also in contrast to the CEO’s statements about the importance of voting proxies. In his 2018 Letter to CEOs Larry Fink highlighted that BlackRock’s “responsibility to engage and is more important than ever.”
Company shareholders are entitled to vote on shareholder resolutions, proposals from shareholders which often address issues related to corporate responsibility, sustainability, and governance. Although most resolutions are non-binding, they can be effective tools for prodding a company to change its practices, especially when they receive support from a large number of shareholders.
Despite being among the largest shareholders of most publicly-traded companies in the U.S., BlackRock rarely votes in favor of resolutions on climate change. The failure to vote in favor of climate resolutions is widely viewed as “letting companies off the hook.”
The shareholder proposal, which Green Century filed in conjunction with lead filers Mercy Investment Services and Boston Trust Walden, urges BlackRock to review its climate-related proxy voting record and guidelines and vote accordingly on climate-related resolutions that may impact shareholder value.
About Green Century Capital Management
Green Century Capital Management is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds. The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of September 30, 2019, BlackRock comprised 0.00%, 0.41%, and 0.00% and Allianz SE comprised 0.00%, 0.00%, and 2.62% of the Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 12/19