Using new analysis to expose BlackRock’s unseen role at the heart of a formidable lobbying machine, the findings show how BlackRock has played a leading role in a network of at least 23 trade associations, groups, and think tanks. Altogether, these groups have spent approximately €30million a year on lobbying EU institutions, leading the opposition to a ‘taxonomy of polluters’ (2) and advocating for a climate strategy based on voluntary mechanisms.
The report will raise further questions about BlackRock’s influence over the EU’s long-awaited strategy on sustainable finance, itself to be published next week (3). The awarding of the banking report has hit the headlines in recent months after the European Ombudsman found that the EU ‘did not properly consider conflicts of interest’ in awarding them the work.
Lara Cuvelier, Sustainable Investments Campaigner at Reclaim Finance, said: “Our report reveals that the European Commission has allowed its climate finance plans to be taken over by the mother of all corporate lobbyists. As we detail, BlackRock sits at the heart of a web of trade associations, lobby groups and backroom meetings working towards one end: ensuring light-touch regulation of the financial sector on climate.”
BlackRock holds senior positions in six of these groups, such as ICMA, EFAMA, and Bruegel, which the report’s authors argue is evidence of their decisive role in setting the lobbying agenda. This has included some notable successes in watering down climate finance regulation, such as pushing for the standards in the EU’s green bonds scheme to remain voluntary. BlackRock has also been given nine contracts with EU institutions since 2016.
Olivier Petitjean of the Observatoire des Multinationales, said: “BlackRock’s lobbying offensive is already paying dividends, having succeeded in watering down climate finance regulation, such as pushing for the standards in the EU’s green bonds scheme to remain voluntary. BlackRock has certainly got its foot in the door, having signed nine contracts with EU institutions since 2016, but the banking contract represents a new degree of influence, since it is now explicitly tasked with helping to design EU regulations.”
The report also shows the ties that BlackRock has built up with EU officials and affiliated organisations. It details 24 meetings with the European Commission related to sustainable finance and the recruitment of former EU and IMF officials to senior positions. Finally, the authors point to BlackRock’s roles in multiple experts or working groups organized by the Commission, including groups giving advice on climate finance issues, such as the High-Level Forum on Capital Markets Union (4).
BlackRock’s motivation for resisting robust regulation, the authors argue, lies partially in its fossil fuel interests (5), which allegedly drive its ‘50 shades of green’ approach.
Cuvelier concluded: “Larry Fink did not have a Damascene conversion to the cause of climate action; rather, BlackRock has been working overtime to ensure that the EU doesn’t adopt regulation which would damage its interests, above all in fossil fuels. As it prepares to release its sustainable finance strategy, the Commission must maintain an ambitious climate plan based on the demands of science, not lobbyists.”