During a marathon ESG hearing, a state senator tells them: ‘You can’t serve two masters’
Texas state senators struggled for more than six hours last week to get straight answers from Wall Street giants BlackRock and State Street, two of the world’s largest asset managers, regarding what they are doing to compel companies whose shares they own to get in line with the ESG movement.
Having joined global Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) clubs like Climate Action 100+ and the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM), and signed pledges to leverage their voting power as the largest shareholders in 90 percent of the S&P 500 companies to “reach net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner across all assets under management,” the asset managers testified that, in reality, they are doing no such thing.
When asked by Senate Chairman Bryan Hughes to clarify BlackRock’s pledge to Climate Action 100+ “to secure commitments from companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the Paris Agreement,” BlackRock’s Head of External Affairs Dalia Blass responded that BlackRock merely talks to companies whose shares they own to learn about their “material risks and opportunities.”
“We participate in Climate Action 100 to engage in dialogue with other participants, market participants, governments so that we understand issues that are relevant to our clients,” said Blass, who recently joined BlackRock from the Biden Administration where she worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The motto of Climate Action 100+ is “Global investors driving business transition.”
“The website doesn’t say anything about engaging in dialogue in Climate Action 100,” Hughes responded. “BlackRock’s website says, ‘We have joined Climate Action 100 to help ensure the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.’ True or false?”
To which, Blass responded, “Sir … what I can say … two things …”
Having repeated the question, Hughes asked, “Can BlackRock send us a witness who can tell us whether that’s a true or false statement on its website today?”
“Sir, if you pulled that off our website, then that is on our website,” Blass responded.
Above Video: BlackRock’s Head of External Affairs Dalia Blass, State Street Global Advisors’ Chief Investment Officer Lori Heinel, and Institutional Shareholder Services’ Global Head of Investment Stewardship Solutions Lorraine Kelly appeared before the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs to testify about their companies’ ESG practices.