BlackRock announced Monday that it has placed Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, to its board of directors, according to a Monday press release from BlackRock.
BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, and has been heavily involved in environmental, social and governance (ESG)-conscious investment initiatives, which often fund companies producing green energy technologies, according to CNBC. The Monday announcement of Nasser’s new position comes just one week after reports highlighted that Saudi Aramco-linked bonds made their way into U.S. ESG investment funds by way of BlackRock and other intermediaries using a complex arrangement of subsidiaries.
BlackRock states that its “investment conviction is that climate risk is investment risk, and that integrating climate and sustainability considerations into investment processes can help investors build more resilient portfolios and achieve better long-term, risk-adjusted returns,” according to its sustainable investing webpage. Saudi Aramco financial products typically receive “severe” ESG scores, which place them below 95% of other entities tracked by ESG screening systems, according to Bloomberg News. (RELATED: BlackRock, The King Of ESG, Lost $1.7 Trillion Of Clients’ Money In Just 6 Months)
ESG is a bad word
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Some environmentalists assert that Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, has been responsible for more than 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1965, according to Time. The state-owned company has long provided the repressive Saudi Arabian regime the cash it needs to maintain its grip on power, according to Human Rights Watch.
Nasser said in February that if ESG policy is “implemented with an automatic bias against any and all conventional energy projects, the resulting underinvestment will have serious implications for the global economy, for energy affordability, and for energy security,” according to Energy Intelligence.
“Amin’s distinguished career at Aramco, spanning more than four decades, gives him a unique perspective on many of the key issues facing our firm and our clients,” Larry Fink, BlackRock’s CEO and board chairman, said in the Monday press release announcing the move. “His leadership experience, understanding of the global energy industry and the drivers of the shift towards a low carbon economy, as well as his knowledge of the Middle East region, will all contribute meaningfully to the BlackRock Board dialogue.”
Numerous Republican states have withdrawn funds from BlackRock over its so-called “woke” investing initiatives, arguing it harms key industries. For instance, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar placed BlackRock on a state potential divestment list in August 2022, stating that the asset manager perpetuates “the boycott of energy companies” in the United States, according to a press release from his office.
BlackRock and Saudi Aramco did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
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