FRANKFURT, Germany, February 4, 2020 (ENS) – Greenpeace Germany supporters protested at global investment firm BlackRock’s German headquarters Monday, to tell the firm to stop investing in coal and financing climate change as the majority shareholder of Siemens, a telecommunications provider for the Adani coal mine in Australia.
BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with almost $7 trillion in assets under management, and the company holds five percent of Siemens shares.
Just days before the Siemens annual general meeting in Munich on Wednesday, 25 activists hoisted banners on cranes in front of BlackRock’s German office, saying, “BlackRock: Your assets are on fire!”
Siemens’ Annual General Meeting will take place in Munich on Wednesday, where shareholders will vote, among other things, on the discharge of their Executive Board.
Greenpeace Germany is calling on BlackRock to ask the Siemens Board of Directors to stop supporting infrastructure projects attached to the controversial Adani mine in Queensland, Australia.
Volker Gassner, finance expert at Greenpeace Germany said, “BlackRock has an opportunity to show they are serious about climate protection and transparency with the companies they invest in.”
“The climate crisis is happening now, so they must live up to their promise and abandon the Siemens’ executive board which is involved in climate-damaging projects such as the Adani’s Carmichael mine in Australia,” Gassner said.
Adani is an Indian multinational conglomerate headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. If completed, Adani’s Carmichael mine in Queensland would be one of the largest in the world and is projected to emit an additional 78 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
Siemens will provide rail signaling technology for the infrastructure of the giant coal mine. The contract with the Adani Group was signed in December 2019, at the same time when the devastating bushfires in Australia broke out.
David Ritter, CEO Greenpeace Australia Pacific said, “Australia’s coal-fired bushfires are still raging. Koalas are burning alive, fires threaten families all over the country, and our capital city is choking on toxic smoke, and yet companies like BlackRock and Siemens continue to support fossil fuels by aiding projects like Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.”
“Unless BlackRock wants to be remembered as the coal that stoked the bushfire crisis, it must lead by example and fix its own portfolio, and demand Siemens Energy withdraw from infrastructure support for not only the catastrophic Adani coal mine, but all fossil fuels completely,” Ritter said.
Greenpeace is demonstrating to appeal to BlackRock’s newly found conscience regarding fossil fuels. On January 14, after more than a year of increasing pressure from climate activists, investors, and legislators, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, in his annual letter, announced a sweeping new set of policies which aim to put climate change and sustainability at the center of BlackRock’s business model.
“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” wrote Fink. “Last September, when millions of people took to the streets to demand action on climate change, many of them emphasized the significant and lasting impact that it will have on economic growth and prosperity – a risk that markets to date have been slower to reflect. But awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”
“Indeed,” wrote Fink, “climate change is almost invariably the top issue that clients around the world raise with BlackRock. From Europe to Australia, South America to China, Florida to Oregon, investors are asking how they should modify their portfolios. They are seeking to understand both the physical risks associated with climate change as well as the ways that climate policy will impact prices, costs, and demand across the entire economy.”
“These questions are driving a profound reassessment of risk and asset values. And because capital markets pull future risk forward, we will see changes in capital allocation more quickly than we see changes to the climate itself. In the near future – and sooner than most anticipate – there will be a significant reallocation of capital,” Fink explained.
In his letter, Fink asked companies to be more sustainable, announcing that future investments will be linked to climate protection criteria.
Greenpeace says that if BlackRock wants to put its words into action, the world’s largest wealth advisor must also clean up its own portfolio. According to research by “The Guardian” newspaper, BlackRock currently holds stocks and bonds worth over $87 billion in coal, oil, and gas companies and is the world’s largest investor in coal projects.
Australian conservationists have been fighting the Adani coal mine proposal for years.
Still, Adani has been cleared to start work on its Carmichael coalmine after the Queensland government approved the company’s plans for groundwater management.
The Australian Conservation Foundation, ACF, one of the country’s largest groups, warns that “Burning coal is the biggest cause of climate damage.”
“If it goes ahead, Adani’s mine and its coal will wreck our climate, steal our groundwater, trash Indigenous rights and irreversibly damage the Great Barrier Reef,” warns the ACF. “Adani’s mine is a climate crime – a crime against humanity and our planet.”
In response to the announcement in Germany that Siemens affirmed its contract to provide rail signaling services for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s senior campaigner Christian Slattery said, “Siemens’ announcement that it will continue working on Adani’s coal mine while bushfires rage in Australia is nothing short of shameful.”
“The company has shown its true colours with this decision. It has a climate change policy, but it is hollow and empty,” said Slattery. “Sadly, Siemens has shown it is no better than the fossil fuel companies it works with. “If constructed, the infrastructure for Adani’s mine will open the Galilee Basin to one of the largest expansions of thermal coal mining on the planet.”
“Siemens claims to support the Paris Agreement, but now it is committed to work on one of the world’s biggest carbon bombs. “The unfolding bushfire crisis in Australia, which has killed at least 28 people and more than one billion native animals is a terrifying foretaste of the climate change future if more coal mines are dug,” Slattery said.
“The campaign to Stop Adani will not be deterred by this announcement,” he said. “Our movement is strong, united and stretches across the world.”
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