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World's biggest investment manager backs away from coal

Business

A changing climate means dramatic risks for the world – and for investments too, says the chief of the world’s largest investment manager.

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To prepare for and protect against those risks, BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink said in his influential annual letter to CEOs that his firm, which manages roughly $7 trillion for investors, will make a series of moves putting climate change and sustainability at the centre of its investing approach.

Among them, BlackRock will cut out investments in some coal producers from some of its portfolios, sharply increase the number of sustainability-focused funds that it offers, and vote against companies at shareholder meetings when they’re too slow in disclosing and mitigating their impact on the environment.

“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” Fink wrote in his letter, adding that he believes “we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance” because of it.

Fink predicted that the changes in how capital is deployed will come “more quickly than we see changes to the climate itself,” and “sooner than most anticipate.”

For all the noise made by Fink’s announcement, the reaction in the stock market was muted on Tuesday.

Energy stocks in the S&P 500 were down, but not as much as some other corners of the market. Coal stocks were mixed.

In his letter, Fink said companies and investors have a role to play in the transition to a low-carbon world, but governments will ultimately need to lead the way.

-AAP

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