BlackRock announces shift away from funding tar sands

The firm’s sustainability funds will exclude companies with thermal coal and oil sands exposure, it announced today

US investment giant BlackRock announced yesterday that one of its fastest growing sustainable funds will stop investing in tar sands projects, as the firm steps up the integration of climate risk into its decision-making.

The firm’s market-leading exchange-traded fund (ETF) provider, iShares, is launching three new fossil fuel screened ETFs under a new ‘Advanced’ product range that will track indices with extensive screens, including for palm oil, controversial weapons, and for-profit prisons, the firm announced. Additional screens will exclude companies with thermal coal and oil sands revenue exposure, the firm explained, taking effect from 2 March.

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The move is part of a rebranding of iShare’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETFs. First launched in October 2018 as Sustainable Core ETFs, they will now be named Aware ETFs. They will continue to operate in the same fashion, tracking indices that include companies exhibiting favourable ESG characteristics.

“Our clients’ growing preference for investing in top ESG companies is quickly driving an evolution in fund design and index construction,” said Carolyn Weinberg, managing director and global head of product for iShares. “We are stepping forward with our proposed Advanced range, which will enable investors to aggressively pursue companies with strong ESG scores while also avoiding those with riskier ESG business involvement, including fossil fuel reserves or ties to thermal coal or oil sands.”

The move builds on booming client demand for sustainable investment solutions, the firm added, with the $5bn in US iShares ESG

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