US$100M committed to the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst Programme

The impact of climate change poses not only environmental risk but investment risk. (Capital at Risk)

This year, we’ve taken steps globally to mitigate those risks and help the world transition to net zero including:

The BlackRock Foundation is giving $100 million to the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst programme to fund innovation in clean energy and combat climate change

We’re building partnerships with companies that can accelerate the transition.

We’re helping developing countries build green energy infrastructure, and putting our clients’ money to work in renewable power sources.

The transition to a net zero world is the shared responsibility of every citizen, corporation and government. We all have a role to play.

To learn more about how we’re advancing sustainability, visit blackrock.com/sustainability

Creating a sustainable future is our shared responsibility – every citizen, company and government working together. That's why BlackRock is helping to fund clean energy technology through our Foundation and partnering with companies that can accelerate the transition to net zero.

Sarah Melvin, Head of UK and Ireland, BlackRock

Hello and welcome to BlackRock. I'm Sarah Melvin, Head of UK and Ireland. We've been operating and investing money on behalf of our clients in the UK for more than five decades. We have more than 3,000 employees across the UK and Ireland, and we are entrusted to manage the savings of over ten million people here. Our clients include pension schemes and their members, insurance companies, charities, and individuals saving for retirement. We invest on behalf of our clients, putting almost 200 billion pounds of their capital to work in local British companies and infrastructure. Which in turn supports job creation and a stronger UK economy. We're proud to play our part in supporting economic prosperity here. And as our clients increasingly want to invest to deliver a more sustainable future, we've invested over 20 billion pounds in sustainable infrastructure projects across the UK, including wind farms and solar power which go on to power 1.8 million homes each year. In January 2020, we published a letter setting out our ambitions for Black Rock to play a leadership role as a sustainable investor for our clients. I'm delighted to say that since then, we've delivered some good progress. Just a few of the highlights include that today, all of our active and advisory strategies are ESG integrated, covering 2 trillion pounds in assets. We introduced 93 new sustainable solutions in 2020, helping clients allocate billions of pounds to sustainable investment strategies over the year. And we've added 1,200 sustainability metrics to our technology platform, to help clients better understand ESG and physical climate risks. Now in 2021 we're pushing ahead once again. We have announced a set of actions that we're taking to help move our clients portfolios and the UK and global economy, towards the crucial target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The net zero transition is an imperative for society and for the planet. And it will reshape the global economy offering a number of exciting investment opportunities. This is an important moment for us all. Whether you're an existing or prospective client, a possible future colleague, a business partner, or just an interested member of society, welcome to BlackRock.

Unless otherwise stated, all data is sourced from BlackRock as at December 2020.

Investing sustainably for our clients

Watch Sarah Melvin, Head of UK and Ireland, share the progress that BlackRock is making in the UK to help our clients invest in a better, more sustainable future.

Quyen

Welcome to Expert to Expert, a BlackRock Fundamental Equities video series that pairs our investment pros with the business heads, politicians, policymakers and academics who are leaders in their fields and influencers in our global economy. 

Together they explore the topics that are driving markets and shaping investor decision-making. 

Our second episode shines a bright light on impact investing, and I’m thrilled to introduce two pioneers and experts in the field. 

Sir Ronald Cohen is widely recognized as the father of impact investing and European venture capital. He is driving forward the global impact revolution. Sir Ronald serves as chairman for the Global Steering Group for impact investment, the Impact Weighted Accounts Initiative at Harvard Business School, and the Portland Trust. He was born in Egypt and left as a refugee at the age of 11, when his family cam to the United Kingdom. He is the author of Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change.

Eric Rice is head of impact investing at BlackRock. He works as a portfolio manager and is the architect of the world’s first diversified public equity impact investing strategy, Global Impact. Earlier in his career Eric worked as a world bank country economist and a diplomat in Rwanda, with the U.S. Department of State. 

In Part 1 of their three-part conversation, Sir Ronald and Eric dig into impact investing and the myth of lower returns. 

Gentlemen, please take it away. 

Eric

Thanks, Quyen. And hi, Ronnie. It's nice to see you. 

Sir Ronald

Hi, Eric. Great to see you, too. 

Eric

So Ronnie, you and I have both spent years as impact investors. And historically, impact investment has lived in a very circumscribed space, focused in the private markets, and only on companies that are dedicated to solving the world's big problems. But now, in your new book, Impact, you write about a broader concept of reimagining capitalism. So what does this idea of reimagining capitalism mean to you? And why is it so important at this moment in history?

Sir Ronald

Great question, Eric. The world is shifting economic paradigms. It's shifting from risk/return to risk/return impact. And the implications of that change are massive because that they will enable us to measure the impacts of companies and to compare not just their profitability, but their impacts, too. And this is informing investment decisions today. But with new information coming on stream, we will be able to compare in great detail the impacts of companies. 

Eric

You broaden the scope through your work on impact-weighted accounts to that whole economy. Can you tell us a bit about what you would hope to accomplish with that? 

Sir Ronald

Yeah. Everybody assumes we can't measure impacts. In fact, though, there's a ton of publicly available information which we can use algorithms and big data to analyze and to deliver to investors and other stakeholders. So what the impact-weighted accounts initiative does at Harvard Business School is take the metrics which have been laboriously prepared by some amazing organizations, like SASBI and GRI over the last decade or two, and sort out the most important metrics, and then create pathways to monetizing these metrics so we can reflect employment impact, and product impact, and operational impact on people and the planet through financial accounts.

Eric

I love the way you broaden that out to the entire economy, the entire market. For my team, we capture the narrow definition of impact investing. But we broaden the lens in a different way, which is to go from what was private markets to what's public markets, the recognition that if we're going to meet the demands of the United Nations sustainable development goals, it's been calculated that it's about $2.5 trillion a year shortfall for the emerging markets, and then to reach the Paris Climate Accord goals another about the same, $2.5 trillion. So to gets to the $5 trillion extra that's needed, we've looked at this and said, well, impact investing has to go from private markets to public markets. And that's how we've approached it.

Sir Ronald

I totally agree. I totally agree with your characterization, Eric. And what we're doing by bringing the transparency on corporate impacts to investors is we're enabling investors now to optimize risk/return and impact, whether they're investing in private asset classes, or in public equities, or in bonds or any other form of investment. So bringing measurement to ESG through ESG impact accounting, if you like, is turning ESG into impact investing, which has the intention to create impact, but also the measurement of the impact created.

Eric

It's amazing to me that there's one issue that never seems to die. We hear from our family office clients and from institutional investors still that impact investing, while it sounds great from a philanthropic lens, it leaves out the fiduciary obligation to maximize returns, this view that impact investing necessarily gives up returns.

Sir Ronald

So I think this myth is now being exploded, Eric. There’s a lot of-- there are a lot of reasons why risk/return impact should deliver better returns than just risk/return optimization.

Eric

I agree. It's funny. Some years ago, we used to think about this. And it wasn't tested yet. We could say, theoretically, wouldn't you rather invest in these long runways of unmet needs, whether social or environmental? Or would you rather invest in the incumbents who are struggling to stay in the same place or who are struggling with stranded assets?

But now, we've had a chance to test it. Now, we can see what the returns look like over quite a number of years. And at least from our view, they're very good. I don't know what you have seen from your perspective.

Sir Ronald

So I see the same thing. I see risk/return impact as a better way to do business and to invest today. You have to be crazy today to invest in a company with a good product, but which is creating huge environmental harm and using child labor, as an example because it's becoming clear that, with the changing values and the influence of policy makers that these changing values are having, these companies are going to be regulated and taxed. So the world has already started to shift.

Quyen

Sir Ronald and Eric discussed important issues about investing with impact.

The key takeaway, in my view, aligns with the message from BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. “The more your company can show its purpose in delivering value to its customers, its employees, and its communities, the better able you will be to compete and deliver long-term, durable profits for shareholders.”

We hope you’ll tune into Part 2 of our impact series where Sir Ronald and Eric focus on the three forces driving change.

AEH0721E/S-1713398

Expert to Expert: Impact investing and the future of capitalism

Investors are increasingly measuring their outcomes on more than risk and return. The conversation is changing to risk-return-impact. BlackRock’s Eric Rice discussed this shift with the “Father of Impact Investing” in Expert to Expert, a Fundamental Equities video series that explores the topics driving markets and shaping investor decision-making.

About BlackRock in UK
We’ve been in the UK and investing money on behalf of our UK clients for more than five decades.1 Our goal is simple – we want to help more and more people experience financial well-being.
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Our net zero commitment

Learn how we’re helping clients navigate this transformation.

*Capital at risk. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and are not guaranteed. Investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

1Source: BlackRock as of 26th January 2021