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BlackRock Revamps Climate Voting

US asset manager BlackRock has overhauled its voting policies for funds with climate objectives to address conflicting decarbonisation priorities in the US and Europe. The firm’s new climate and decarbonisation stewardship guidelines will apply to 83 funds with US$150 billion in assets from Q4 this year. The funds affected are based in Europe, but the guidelines could eventually have knock-on effects for those in the US. Under the strategy, BlackRock funds with a climate and decarbonisation focus will utilise a different stewardship approach to the managers’ wider product offering, with a stronger emphasis on Paris alignment. BlackRock will expect the affected funds to consider shareholder proposals that, for example, request firms disclose Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions or climate-related lobbying activities. The new approach will see the asset manager try to balance the demands of European and US clients who are driving efforts to decarbonise, and US laws – which require fund managers to prioritise financial returns. Later this year, BlackRock’s US and Asian funds with specific climate mandates will choose whether to adopt the policy. Earlier this year, the firm scaled back its involvement with the Climate Action 100+, having faced increased political backlash and legal threats in the US.

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