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BlackRock's pension funds face ESG criticism from New York Comptroller

Kitco News

Sept 22 (Reuters) - New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said he is reassessing business relationships with BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), among other asset managers, on concerns that it is straying from its "climate commitments".

The world's largest asset manager has faced criticism from many sides in the debate on low-carbon fuels, with environmentalists protesting it does too little to press for change at fossil fuel portfolio companies on one side, and Republican U.S. politicians accusing it of boycotting energy stocks. read more

"The fundamental contradiction between BlackRock's statements and actions is alarming," Lander said, in a letter dated Sept. 21 to BlackRock's Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink.

"BlackRock cannot simultaneously declare that climate risk is a systemic financial risk and argue that BlackRock has no role in mitigating the risks that climate change poses to its investments by supporting decarbonization in the real economy."

The firm had warned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month that its proposed rules aimed at fighting "greenwashing" by fund managers will confuse investors. read more

Regulators and activists have become concerned that U.S. funds looking to cash in on the popularity of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing may be misleading shareholders over their ESG credentials.

BlackRock manages $43 billion of the city's pension assets and is the largest asset manager for three big NYC public pensions.

It did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reporting by Mehnaz Yasmin in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber
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