LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change activists targeted BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, in London on Monday, demanding that the world’s major financial institutions stop funding what they describe as a looming environmental catastrophe.
Extinction Rebellion, which promotes revolt against established political, economic and social structures as a way to publicise its dramatic climate message, is in the middle of two weeks of civil disobedience in London.
Its activists thronged the financial heart of London on Monday, blocking streets around locations such as the Bank of England and BlackRock.
Activists glued themselves to the doors of BlackRock while others staged a mock dinner party with rolled-up banknotes on their plates, a Reuters reporter said.
“The City of London is a preeminent nexus of power in the global system that is killing our world,” said Carolina Rosa, spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.
There was no immediate comment from BlackRock.
Extinction Rebellion wants non-violent civil disobedience to force governments to cut carbon emissions and avert a climate crisis it says will bring starvation and social collapse.
Critics say the group is proposing what amounts to the overthrow of capitalism without any clear idea of what would replace it, and that the world’s energy needs cannot be met without fossil fuels.
Police reported more than 1,300 arrests so far.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has said the financial sector must transform its management of climate risk, warning that global warming will prompt reassessments of the value of every single financial asset.
Emily Grossman, a British science broadcaster who attended the protest outside BlackRock, said she hoped to highlight the role of the financial sector in funding fossil fuel projects.
“This is criminal damage that they are doing to our lives and to the lives of our children and it has to stop,” Grossman told Reuters
Major oil companies have approved $50 billion of projects since last year that run contrary to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to an analysis published last month by financial think-tank Carbon Tracker.
Index fund firms such as BlackRock now control half the US stock mutual fund market, giving the biggest funds enormous power to influence decisions at the companies in which they invest trillions of dollars.
But the leading US index fund firms, BlackRock, Vanguard Group and State Street Corp, rarely use that clout, a Reuters analysis of their shareholder-voting records found this month.
Instead, they overwhelmingly support the decisions and pay packages of executives at the companies in their portfolios, including the worst performers, the analysis found.
Image: Protester hold a banner as they block the road during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration at Bank, in the City of London, Britain October 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls