FILE PHOTO: The logo for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia adorns their head office in central Sydney
FILE PHOTO: The logo for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia adorns their head office in central Sydney, Australia, October 12, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

October 14, 2021

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager, voted against a resolution calling for Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to stop financing new fossil fuel projects, it said late on Wednesday.

CBA’s largest shareholder said it opposed the resolution, which also asked the bank to publish targets to cut its fossil fuel exposures consistent with net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, because it was overly prescriptive.

“(It) risks unduly constraining management’s ability to make business decisions,” BlackRock said in a statement on its website.

“Further, the company has demonstrated its commitment to integrating climate risks into its long-term strategy, including Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)-aligned reporting since 2018 and a stated goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”

The lack of support for the resolution was a perfect example of an asset manager failing to live up to its own net zero commitments, said Jack Bertolus of activist group Market Forces, which helped investors organise the resolution.

BlackRock accounts for a large part of the $32 trillion of total assets supporting groups that have declared commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, including the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in Europe and the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.

The resolution, backed by just 14% of voting shareholders of Australia’s biggest lender at an annual meeting on Wednesday, comes ahead of the United Nations’ COP26 climate talks in Glasgow later this month, when Australia will be under pressure to reduce its carbon emissions.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Mark Potter)

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