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The lesson of corporate political power: why BlackRock’s announcement is important

Yesterday, the world’s largest investment firm, BlackRock, took a big step in confronting the threat of climate change and announced that they would now be making investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal in meeting their fiduciary obligation to clients. This announcement comes on the heels of work by advocates and activists to move BlackRock and other financial institutions in line with the many reports from scientists and policy makers.

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Former President & CEO

Larry Fink, Founder and CEO of BlackRock, called for companies to measure and disclose critical sustainability metrics and to plan for operating under “a scenario where the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees is fully realized.”  Fink also called out young people as being “at the forefront of calling on institutions – including BlackRock – to address the new challenges associated with climate change.”

BlackRock is making significant and sophisticated commitments that will have a direct impact across all sectors of the economy in tackling the climate crisis. It is exactly these fiduciary and moral obligations that have fueled Amalgamated Bank’s mission and corporate social responsibility work for nearly a hundred years. Amalgamated has led the corporate sector by building deep sustainability into our operations, committing to measuring and reporting our carbon footprint, not lending or investing in fossil fuels with our assets,  delivering fossil fuel free investment products to our customers, and engaging with the companies our clients invest in to push for alignment with the Paris Climate Agreement. We are also proud to stand with many of our social change partners in shareholder activism work that push the corporate sector to raise the bar for social responsibility and sustainable investment.

The real victory of BlackRock’s announcement goes to our clients and partners that led the corporate accountability and climate activism efforts. Organizations like, Sierra Club, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and many more who have dedicated unmeasurable talent and expertise to drive change in the corporate sector. We applaud their efforts and stand with them in this important moment.

Social change takes all of us. In the absence of strong leadership by the federal government, corporations like BlackRock need to use their muscle and take a stand for what’s right. I am proud of Amalgamated’s record in this regard and look forward to the next frontier of change.

This new direction by BlackRock is an important marker for how CEOs and corporations can fill the current political gap in driving towards a more just and sustainable world. We need to see more of these actions!

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