I have really mixed feelings about today’s New Zealand Government +BlackRock announcement. There’s a lot not to like about BlackRock. It’s the world’s biggest private investor in oil, gas, & coal. That’s why @PriceofOil joined allies to expose BlackRock: https://blackrocksbigproblem.com/
But, on the other hand, hugely scaling up renewable energy deployment is crucial. For 1.5ºC, we need to triple total global renewable energy capacity by 2030. So, unless governments nationalise everything & implement full socialism, shifting private finance is essential.
BlackRock is the world’s biggest asset manager. Moving private finance into renewable energy means we need to move companies like BlackRock.
Two billion New Zealand dollars for renewable electricity in Aotearoa is a good thing, better than other things BlackRock might invest in.
But two billion New Zealand dollars is a drop in the ocean from a company that has over ONE HUNDRED BILLION United States dollars invested in the coal industry.
For every NZ dollar committed today, BlackRock owns a tonne of thermal coal reserves. Almost exactly.
BlackRock owns 2.1 billion tonnes of thermal coal reserves. And: BlackRock has USD2.7 bn invested in tar sands and tar sand pipeline companies. It’s the one biggest investor in 12 new fossil fuel projects that together would exhaust 75% of our remaining carbon budget for 1.5ºC.
If this was a National Party announcement, I’d celebrate it is a small win. It’s a classic market-based approach. But it also means that billionaires will profit off renewable electricity deployment
Civil society has long called for community owned renewable energy.
A Labour Party being true to its values would partner with working people & communities for community-owned energy, not overseas billionaires and their companies.
Greenpeace Aotearoa press release
Amanda Larsson 8 August 2023
Greenpeace calls for caution over BlackRock investment in NZ electricity generation
Greenpeace is calling for caution in response to today’s announcement that the Government has partnered with BlackRock to increase finance for renewable energy.
“It’s good to see the Government finally showing some ambition for real climate action,” says Greenpeace spokesperson Amanda Larsson.
“Building a significant amount of new renewables is essential if we’re going to replace climate-polluting fossil fuels, especially in the transport and industrial sectors. But how you do renewables also matters.”
Greenpeace is concerned about the heavy reliance on private finance to achieve 100% renewable energy goals.
“This announcement hasn’t been balanced with meaningful policies to support household solar or community energy, as has been done in most other countries that are leading the charge on renewables, like Denmark and Germany. Even in the US and Australia, there is much more support for household and community energy,” says Larsson.
“What we’ve seen in countries that have done renewable energy rollouts well is that local ownership is essential for generating buy-in to new renewables and ensuring that local people and communities benefit. That kind of public buy-in speeds up the roll-out of renewables.
“The Government announced a deal today that puts renewable energy into the hands of overseas private investors. Alongside yesterday’s announcement that the Government wants the fast-track consenting process to be a key vehicle for new renewables, we have very real concerns that these projects will be forced through without local buy-in. Doing renewables badly is ultimately bad news for the climate.”
Larsson also says that, when it comes to climate change, it’s not all about renewables.
“Here in New Zealand, the major sources of climate pollution are cars and cows. Any political party that is serious about climate change needs to come to the table with ambitious policies to address big dairy and transport emissions.”
In June, Greenpeace, alongside more than forty other organisations, launched a ten-point plan for climate action called Climate Shift. The plan calls for urgent climate action from all political parties in the lead-up to the 2023 election.
350 Aotearoa press release via Scoop
Climate justice organisations say that the renewable infrastructure Aotearoa needs should be resourced directly by the Government – funded by making corporate polluters pay. This comes in response to today’s announcement the Government and Blackrock have collaborated to create a $2 billion renewable energy fund.
ActionStation’s Climate Justice Organiser India Logan-Riley says “People in Aotearoa want the foundations of our communities to be resilient and sustainable for ourselves and for our grandchildren. The grid our power depends on must be reliable and clean. This means investing in our energy system is important but this shouldn’t be leveraged to sell our public infrastructure off to overseas corporations. Infrastructure, like the trains we catch and the pipes that provide clean water to our taps, are public necessities that should not be captured by corporate interests. Asset exploiters like BlackRock are driven by profits and short term thinking, not public good. This will end up costing citizens more to pad BlackRock’s profits that end up going to shareholders rather than back into local communities.”
350 Aotearoa’s climate campaigner Adam Currie says: “Clean, homegrown energy has the power to protect our climate and usher in a new era of abundant, resilient and affordable energy for all. Instead of begging for private investment, the government should be taxing big polluters – then investing directly in renewable infrastructure projects for public good. The profits are there – between 2014 and 2021, the Gentailers distributed $3.7 billion in excess dividends. The government should tax polluters profits – and invest in the community and kaupapa Māori energy projects who are already leading the way across Aotearoa. This government can and should be focussing on delivering publicly-owned and publicly-funded infrastructure projects.”
Oxfam Aotearoa Climate Justice Lead Nick Henry says: “Aotearoa needs a full, fast, fair and funded phase out of the last lingering fossil fuels in our energy system. A Just Transition needs to be co-designed with Mana Whenua, workers and their unions, and all communities. It’s unclear though why a private equity partnership is the proposed solution, when Government could be raising revenue to invest in transition by taxing wealth and excess profits, and making polluters pay the true cost of their carbon emissions.”
“It’s important to remember that neither BlackRock, nor New Zealand, are by any means climate leaders. For every dollar committed today, Blackrock owns a tonne or so of thermal coal reserves. Let’s also remember that New Zealand was by no means the first country to set a 100% renewable target – Tokelau is already 100% renewable,” Currie says.
Helpful report on Blackrock fuelling climate breakdown: https://blackrocksbigproblem.com/
350 Aotearoa tonight is launching a documentary on the power of homegrown energy, 6:30 at Acadamy cinemas. https://350.org.nz/we-can-produce-our-own-power/
Report on excess dividends distributed by the Gentailers: https://350.org.nz/generating-scarcity-report/
Note Blackrock is currently the fourth largest shareholder in the mixed ownership companies (Meridian, Mercury and Genesis); Blackrock’s collective shareholding is valued at NZ$642 million across those three firms.
|Shareholder #||Share (%)||Value (US$ mn)||NZ$ mn|