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Climate Clashes and Chasing Imaginary Enemies: Tennessee vs. BlackRock – A Legal Tussle Over ESG

Image: Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza, 1955, Pablo Picasso. Featured in the August 18–24 issue, Les Lettres Françaises, celebrating the 350th publication anniversary of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. BlackRock finds itself in Tennessee's legal crosshairs for the audacious act of combatting climate risk through ESG metrics. The State of Tennessee Attorney General sued BlackRock Tuesday because the company is working to address climate risk using ESG metrics. The State of Tennessee wrote that “BlackRock's engagement as a shareholder and key voting actions likewise have centered on climate-change considerations, with "climate and natural capital" constituting BlackRock's number one shareholder engagement factor in 2020-202I.”


The climate crisis is unequivocally caused by human activities, according to the world’s climate scientists in their recent IPCC update. Even the World Economic Forum calls climate risk the global economy’s number one long-term global risk. Tennessee, the climate crisis is not a distant concept—it's a tangible threat causing significant economic damage right in your backyard, more than $1.75 billion dollars alone in 202. According to the U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index, your state ranks 9th out of 50 in vulnerability and is among the top five states for climate-related deaths.

Image: Tennessee, U.S. Climate Vulnerability Index, accessed December 21, 2023.


BlackRock is acting prudently to meet the needs of individuals in Tennessee. In May 2022, that it was "initially" or "currently" committing 77 percent of total AUM (or $7.3 trillion dollars) to be managed in line with net zero by 2030. Perhaps, instead of chasing imaginary enemies, a gesture of appreciation is due.


A  suggestion for the State of Tennessee: stop arguing with the immutable laws of chemistry. Chemistry undeniably demonstrates that our climate is heating up. This global warming is due to excess greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere primarily by the fossil fuel industry and the products we consume each day. We literally can track excess fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere using the immutable laws of chemistry with C14 isotopes.

Rather than contesting scientific truths, consider focusing on aiding your community in adapting to the inevitable changes.

As we sit waiting for Tennessee to sue us next, to Tennessee: stop chasing the imaginary enemy that is improved data transparency for decision-making using ESG and other types of metric.

Stop attacking imaginary enemies, instead embrace the improved data transparency, provided by ESG and other tools, that helps us tackle climate change together supporting our communities we live in.

Climate change is the genuine adversary, affecting two-thirds of your populace with genuine concern. It's time to redirect energy towards addressing this critical issue for the well-being of your people, economy, and future prosperity.


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