Report reveals BlackRock's investments in deforestation

An investigative report has been released by Friends of the Earth, Amazon Watch and Profundo Research and Advice. The report evaluates the investment management and financial services firm BlackRock, and its holdings in companies that engage in deforestation activities. The group put together a list of 167 companies involved in palm oil, cattle, pulp and paper, rubber, soy and timber production between 2015 and 2018, companies which BlackRock holds shares in.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and according to the study, is among the top three shareholders in 25 of the world’s largest publicly listed deforestation-risk companies. Further, the report claims that BlackRock is also among the top 10 shareholders in 50 of the world’s top deforestation-risk companies. Between 2014 and 2018 the value of BlackRock’s investments in deforestation-risk companies increased from £1bn to £1.6bn. This increase in investment is even larger than it appears. Had the investment value of $1bn in 2014 remained the same, it would have been worth $825m by 2018. The report claims that the most significant factor of this increase is investments into pulp, paper and palm oil companies, followed by beef, rubber and timber producers. Further, the report finds that a number of the companies in BlackRock’s ESG funds have been linked to recent accusations of deforestation, land rights conflicts and child and forced labour.

In recent months, BlackRock has faced increasing pressure regarding its relationship with fossil fuel and deforestation industries. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) estimated that roughly 75 per cent of BlackRock’s $90bn in losses for investors over the last decade were due to the company’s investments in fossil fuel producers like ExxonMobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP, reported on here.

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