By Nancy Mancias, CODEPINK Campaigner
Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren along with a few of her colleagues sent a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink requesting details about the company’s decision to combat climate change. Just like us, Warren is deeply concerned about climate change, however, we take it a step further by including nuclear weapons as a manmade method to destroy the planet. BlackRock has been outed by disarmament activists as the largest investor in nuclear weapons.
In her letter to Fink, Senator Warren states “investors lack basic information about the potential risk of the climate crisis on American companies.” Can the same be true about the American companies that make nuclear weapons? BlackRock’s iShares U.S. Aerospace and Defense ETF is fully loaded with companies responsible for the US’s nuclear arsenal. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman are responsible for the maintenance, production, and development of missiles.
Given BlackRock’s small brush strokes for sustainability, it remains unsustainable because of its war investments. The firm has no credibility when the very companies it invests in contribute to the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases-- the US military -- with its fighter jets, missiles, bombs, and nuclear weapons. Investments in weapons companies are a risk to the climate too.
If BlackRock wants to make an impact, it could apply pressure onto weapon companies. It could divest. Divestment is not a “niche” idea. For example, Amalgamated Bank announced that it does not invest in weapons and the bank even went so far as to sign the 2017 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. BlackRock has the potential to change for the best. Recently, Mercy Investment Services and Boston Trust Walden withdrew its 2020 shareholder’s climate resolution after engagement with the company.
Not only is BlackRock the largest investor in nuclear weapons, but the company and its CEO hold a lot of power. When did Larry Fink’s annual letter become the homily that would set the tone for the financial world? It is in the interest of Senator Warren’s constitutes that she and her colleagues raise concerns about BlackRock’s war investments and its unrelenting power and influence on the financial world. As we used to say in the Occupy Wall Street movement “let’s break-up the big banks,” but now it might be time to chant “let’s break-up BlackRock.”