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As investment giant BlackRock pulls back from coal, activists urge the same for biomass energy

(Eco Business, 20 Apr 2020) Environmentalists lauded BlackRock’s move in January to reduce investments in coal, but say it’s not enough. They are calling for the company to divest from its wood-burning power plant, stating that burning biomass is more polluting than burning coal.

Responding to intense pressure from investors and environmental activists, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, signaled in January that it would reduce investments in coal for energy generation. Other fossil fuel investments would come under scrutiny as well.

“Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote in his influential letter to corporate executives. “Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.”

For 32 environmental organisations from 17 countries, Fink’s message was encouraging but not enough. On March 23, admittedly a time when the world’s attention is consumed by Covid-19, the coalition delivered an open letter to BlackRock. It stated that burning biomass, or wood pellets, was more polluting than burning coal. Thus, the coalition asked BlackRock to divest its 5 per cent stake in UK-based Drax, operator of the world’s largest wood-burning power plant.

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Eco Business, 20 Apr 2020: As investment giant BlackRock pulls back from coal, activists urge the same for biomass energy