For Immediate Release

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Myriam Fallon, myriam@sunriseproject.net, 708.546.9001

Rep García, Sen Whitehouse, Indigenous and Community Leaders Call Out BlackRock on Climate Deception

Virtual People’s Assembly on eve of BlackRock AGM lays out case that BlackRock is not holding to its climate commitments.

WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Indigenous and community leaders from the U.S., Brazil, and Liberia called out BlackRock for failing to keep its promises to center climate in its business model. Gathering online for a “People’s Assembly” on the eve of the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), speaker after speaker, many of whom have attended the AGM in person in previous years, pointed out ways in which BlackRock has fallen far short of the mark it set for itself in January and laid out priorities and questions BlackRock must address during its yearly shareholder meeting on Thursday.

"We know BlackRock understands the massive systemic risks climate change presents to our financial system. BlackRock is among the chorus of big investors, central banks, and top economists warning of dire financial consequences," said Senator Whitehouse. "BlackRock now needs to get serious about the fossil fuel companies in which it has a big ownership stake. Marathon Petroleum obstructs climate action, and BlackRock does nothing; Exxon provides bogus climate reports, and BlackRock does nothing. That lassitude has to stop."

Indigenous and community leaders spoke to the hundreds of attendees about rampant deforestation, land grabbing, pollution, and human rights violations happening in their communities, all propped up by BlackRock’s investments.

"BlackRock is investing in companies that are actively causing environmental destruction, pollution, social conflicts, and human rights violations across Indonesia," said Bayu Herinata, Director of Education and Organizing with WALHI in Indonesia "We are calling on BlackRock to live up to its promises on climate and sustainability by ending its investments in companies that destroy the environment and violate human rights. If BlackRock cannot commit to taking responsibility and carrying out its obligations then we ask BlackRock to get out of Indonesia entirely."

Also among the speakers was Rachel Rivera from New York City who spoke about surviving Hurricane Sandy. She called on BlackRock to stop investing in the companies that are causing climate change impacts like hurricanes. Ali Kaba of the Sustainable Development Institute in Liberia talked about how consent from indigenous communities is absolutely necessary before any business activity can take place on their territory, and not go forward if they don't consent.

"BlackRock’s nominal commitments to sustainability and human rights are completely antithetical to the billions of dollars it has invested in the industries currently destroying the Amazon rainforest and violating indigenous rights there," said Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. "If BlackRock is serious about ‘fundamentally reshaping finance to deal with climate change’, it needs to STOP FINANCING the fossil fuel and agribusiness industries most responsible for driving it."

Congressman Garcia and Senator Whitehouse were joined by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Diana Best, Senior Strategist for the Sunrise Project, to discuss the long term implications of BlackRock gaining power and influence during the Covid-19 recovery, and solutions that BlackRock needs to implement to live up to its climate rhetoric.

"COVID-19 is a national tragedy, not an opportunity to consolidate corporate power and reward the wealthy. While my constituents struggle to pay rent and put food on the table, the Federal Reserve is enabling greedy corporations like BlackRock to make a profit off the backs of working families during this global health pandemic," said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García. "BlackRock was hired to help stabilize our economy, instead, the Fed’s contract with the company allows it to further consolidate its own market power at the expense of families who are struggling to get by. The company claims to be a steward of our climate, but invests deeply in the fossil fuel industry. It’s clear the Trump Administration is exploiting this pandemic to reward politically connected shadow banks, fossil fuel companies, and major campaign contributors and the public should be outraged."

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