[Editor’s note: Opinions expressed by the author are their own.]
Last week, the world’s largest fund manager BlackRock finally yielded to high-level pressure to step up its activism on matters ESG and climate. On Jan. 15 the asset manager further announced it had offloaded $500 million in shares from companies that generate a quarter or more of revenue from thermal coal.
But according to an emailed statement from Extinction Rebellion (XR) on Jan. 14, BlackRock’s decision to sign up to the Climate Action 100+ initiative isn’t enough.
XR’s motives and objectives are good. But climate pressure groups like it are much more likely to inspire investor-led change if they acknowledge the bitter truth that “societal collapse and mass death” is equally likely to occur if fossil-fuel producers are deprived of financing too quickly, or are shamed into dropping core operations in favor of renewables before cost-comparable options are amply available. This is especially the case for renewable sources that aren’t yet competitive with fossil fuel (i.e. most of them) and which thus, ironically, demand the expenditure of more fossil fuel in the short term than there would otherwise be if they weren’t being manufactured at all.