Tell Asset Managers: Quit Coal or We’ll Quit You

BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, and State Street

Asset managers – institutions that manage retirement and pensions –are at the top of naughty list this year for their alliance with fossil fuels and its profit. In fact, they are becoming an increasing source of financing for coal companies. As more global banks adopt policies to restrict their financing of coal, coal companies are looking to raise money by selling bonds and equities to asset managers, including BlackRock and Vanguard.

While many of the world’s largest asset managers have adopted climate commitments, the overwhelming majority don’t have any policy that limits them from giving money to some of the most polluting companies in the world. Last week, one of the biggest asset mangers, Vanguard, even showed their true colors by dropping out of the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, an international climate pledge.

Halting coal financing isn’t just something for a wish list; we know asset managers can make this shift because some already have! Earlier this year, HSBC Asset Management – an institution that manages over $570 billion dollars in investments – committed to phase out its investments in coal companies in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. And the science is clear: fossil fuel expansion is incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5C. We need to follow the science and move investments away from coal.

Rather than giving the world more coal for Christmas, it’s time for the world’s biggest asset managers to put their money where their mouth is, and we need your help! Join us in calling on BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, and State Street to phase out their investments in thermal coal.

This petition is Co-sponsored by Stop the Money Pipeline, the Sierra Club, and FixMyFunds.

To: BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, and State Street
From: [Your Name]

There’s nothing nice about burning coal. Its mining wreaks havoc on local communities, damages human health, and drives climate disruption. As the most carbon intensive fuel we can burn, it’s clear it needs to be the first to go if any climate commitment is to be taken seriously. I am calling on your firm to adopt a stronger policy to phase out thermal coal financing.

According to the International Energy Agency, achieving our climate goals requires an immediate halt on new coal plants, a phase-out of coal-fired electricity, and no new coal mines or mine extensions. Ensuring we meet those benchmarks means stemming the capital flow to the companies that are undertaking projects that are fundamentally incompatible with the Paris Agreement.

As global banks wind down coal financing, coal companies are increasingly turning to investors as sources of needed capital. This cannot become a pathway to buoy coal.

Beyond that, continued investment in coal exacerbates systemic climate risk, which causes harm to society, the economy, the environment, and – ultimately – to people’s savings. All of which will only compound as the climate crisis worsens.

As a financial institution that has committed itself to helping achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, you must adopt policies that guide your investment strategies accordingly. Specifically, I am calling on you to:
- Cease the purchase of IPOs, secondary offerings, and primary fixed income financing at companies that are continuing to expand coal assets and infrastructure
- Discontinue the launch of new index funds that have fixed income holdings in companies that are continuing to expand coal assets and infrastructure
- Phase out exposure, including in passive funds, to the entire coal value chain no later than 2030 in OECD countries and by 2040 in non-OECD countries
- Vote in favor of all shareholder resolutions calling for phase-outs of coal production and coal financing incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5C
- Vote against corporate directors at companies continuing to expand coal assets and infrastructure and communicate a climate-based rationale for your vote

This winter season, don’t be naughty. Adopt a stronger policy to phase out thermal coal financing.