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BlackRock says it will not support “prescriptive” climate proposals for companies

BlackRock Inc (NYSE:BLK), the world’s biggest asset manager, said it will not vote in favour of as many shareholder resolutions on companies’ climate plans in AGMs this year as some are becoming too “prescriptive”. Although the funds group, which has $9.6 trillion of assets under management, has become a powerful force in pushing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in the past couple of years, it said some proposals were too “prescriptive” and demanding for companies. BlackRock said resolutions it would oppose could be those that call for management to stop providing finance to traditional energy companies (such as criticism levelled at Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered), or those requiring alignment of bank business models to a specific climate scenario (such as a vote it opposed this year at Canadian lender Bank of Montreal). “The nature of certain shareholder proposals coming to a vote in 2022 means we are likely to support proportionately fewer this proxy season than in 2021, as we do not consider them to be consistent with our clients’ long-term financial interests,” BlackRock said in an investment stewardship update on Tuesday. Last year, the group said it voted in favour of 47% of shareholder climate proposals, including backing activist hedge fund Engine No 1 winning seats on the board of ExxonMobil. Boss Larry Fink, who two years ago warned company bosses that “climate risk is investment risk” has lately been resisting the idea that the company has become too political and liberal. “Stakeholder capitalism is not politics,” he wrote earlier this year. “It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke.’ ”