APAC asset owners stand by climate group as BlackRock, SSGA exit

After two of the world’s largest asset managers pulled out of Climate Action 100+, HESTA and NZ Super have restated their commitment to the effort.
APAC asset owners stand by climate group as BlackRock, SSGA exit

Asian institutional investors have re-affirmed their commitment to collective action in addressing the climate crisis, after three of the world’s largest asset managers either pulled out of or scaled back their commitment to Climate Action 100+, an investor-led climate initiative representing investors with more than $65 trillion.

JPMorgan Asset Management (JPMAM) and State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) said they were pulling out of Climate Action 100+ earlier in February.

BlackRock said it had transferred its membership BlackRock Inc, its main, US-headquartered business, to the smaller BlackRock International, its collection of international businesses, which focusses efforts on serving clients outside the US, including in APAC.

“CA100+ is a global, focused and well-resourced vehicle for engagement on a priority issue,” said Anne-Maree O'Connor, head of sustainable investment at New Zealand Super (the fund employs Columbia Threadneedle to represent it at the group).

Anne Maree O'Connor
NZ Super


She added: “There continues to be significant global support for CA100+," she added.

"Collaboration priorities do evolve – and sometimes shareholders will decide to limit their engagement to unilateral engagement with companies on an issue. However, they know that they are part of a wider effort, which can also inform how they engage on climate change with other companies that are not on the CA100+ list.”

Kim Farrant, general manager, responsible investment at HESTA, reaffirmed the fund’s commitment to Climate Action 100+ and collective action more generally.

“HESTA’s participation in Climate Action 100+ reflects our deep commitment to responsible investing and our recognition of the urgent need for climate action. HESTA believes in the power of collaboration between investors to help accelerate the transition to a low carbon future,” she said.

Kim Farrant

Besides NZ Super and HESTA, the group’s APAC signatories include Singapore's GIC, Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), Mercer in Australia, Sumitomo Life Insurance and Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Japan’s third largest insurer by revenue, and New Zealand Super.


The move by three of the world’s largest asset managers follows the announcement by Climate Action 100+ last June of phase 2, which shifts the focus of members’ activity from pressurising companies to improve climate-related disclosures, to actively pressurising them to reduce their emissions.

In the US, such pressure could break laws binding managers to act solely in the long-term economic interest of clients.

“This new strategy will require signatories to make an overarching commitment to use client assets to pursue emissions reductions in investee companies through stewardship engagement.

"In our judgment, making this new commitment across our assets under management would raise legal considerations, particularly in the US,” BlackRock said in a media release.

A SSGA spokesperson also referred to phase 2, saying: “State Street Global Advisors has concluded the enhanced Climate Action 100+ phase 2 requirements for signatories will not be consistent with our independent approach to proxy voting and portfolio company engagement. As a result, we have decided to withdraw from Climate Action 100+.”


A spokesperson for JPMAM declined to comment on the legal issue in the US, but confirmed its withdrawal from the group, directing AsianInvestor to its February 15 statement: “JPMAM is not renewing its membership in Climate Action 100+ in recognition of the significant investment it has made in its investment stewardship team and engagement capabilities, as well as the development of its own climate risk engagement framework over the past couple of years.”

BlackRock’s media department also directed AsianInvestor towards a new decarbonisation engagement and voting stewardship option it is preparing for clients, including those in APAC, “who explicitly direct us to invest their assets with decarbonisation investment objectives.”

The option will apply to the roughly 100 investment funds, with total assets under management of $100 billion, that already have measurable decarbonisation or climate-related commitments.

HESTA’S Farrant said that returns and pursuing sustainability need not be at odds.

“We are committed to using our expertise and influence to deliver strong long-term returns while accelerating our contribution to a more sustainable world.

"By working together, we seek to mitigate climate-related risks and support a timely, equitable and orderly transition as part of promoting the best financial interests of our members,” she noted.

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