The chief of the world’s largest money manager believes the intensifying climate crisis will bring about a fundamental reshaping of finance, with a significant reallocation of capital set to take place “sooner than most anticipate.”
In an annual letter to CEOs published Tuesday, BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink said: “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects … But awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”
BlackRock’s assets under management totaled almost $7 trillion in the third quarter of 2019.
Fink’s comments come as business leaders, policymakers and investors prepare to travel to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum next week.
The theme at this year’s January get-together, which is often criticized for being out of touch with the real world, has been designated as “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.”
“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,” Fink continued.
“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,” he added.
‘Defining issue of our time’
Alongside 20 other young climate activists, Sweden’s Greta Thunberg has called on all of those attending the World Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps to stop the “madness” of ongoing investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction and “completely divest” from fossil fuels.
In an op-ed for The Guardian, published Friday, Thunberg — who was catapulted to fame for skipping school every Friday to hold a weekly vigil outside Swedish parliament in 2018 — said global leaders must also “end all fossil fuel subsidies.”
Youth activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the Climate Action Summit at the United Nations on September 23, 2019 in New York City. While the United States will not be participating, China and about 70 other countries are expected to make announcements concerning climate change.
Stephanie Keith | Getty Images
Protesting against political inaction over climate change, the 17-year-old sparked an international wave of school strikes — also known as “Fridays for Future” — with millions of other children following suit in cities around the world last year.
The United Nations has recognized climate change as “the defining issue of our time,” with a recent report calling the crisis “the greatest challenge to sustainable development.”
‘Climate change is different’ to other crises
“Over the 40 years of my career in finance, I have witnessed a number of financial crises and challenges — the inflation spikes of the 1970s and early 1980s, the Asian currency crisis in 1997, the dot-com bubble, and the global financial crisis,” BlackRock’s Fink said.
“Even when these episodes lasted for many years, they were all, in the broad scheme of things, short-term in nature. Climate change is different.”
“Even if only a fraction of the projected impacts is realized, this is a much more structural, long-term crisis. Companies, investors, and governments must prepare for a significant reallocation of capital,” he added.
Australia has drawn global attention in recent months, with the country currently experiencing one of its worst bush fire seasons on record.
Record high temperatures and drought exacerbated by the climate crisis have ignited blazes that have killed more than two dozen people and destroyed 2,000 homes since September.
More than a billion animals in Australia are thought to have been killed by raging wildfires in the last couple of months too.
Clarification: This report was revised to give updated figures for the effects of the Australian bush fires.