April 3, 2014

World’s largest fund manager flags risks to Great Barrier Reef from fossil fuel expansion

World’s largest fund manager commended for flagging risks of fossil  fuel expansion that would threaten Great Barrier Reef 

SYDNEY, 1ST April 2014: 350.org Australia commends BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest fund manager, for their acknowledgement of the risks associated with new fossil fuel projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area. These projects for the proposed Galilee Basin mega-mine complex, which will include nine new coal mines, five of which are larger than any currently operating in Australia. 

Pru Bennett, Asia Pacific Director of Corporate Governance for BlackRock inc said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday: “It’s a huge issue potentially for any company operating in the Great Barrier Reef if there is a failure of management systems from an environmental perspective. 

“The reputational damage that could be done, and the potential to lose that social license to operate, is very high.” 

Ms Bennett went on to say that a portfolio manager could decide to sell an active holding if they formed the view that the company isn’t appropriately managing environmental risk. 

Says Blair Palese, CEO of 350.org Australia: “The fact that the world’s largest asset manager is warning of the financial and reputational risks of investing in projects that endanger the Great Barrier Reef is telling. 

“Why is it that the international investment community is able to see the dangers of destroying one of the world’s great natural wonders yet Australia’s governments and financiers are turning a blind eye? 

“Many international experts have flagged that new Australian coal investments are not financially viable and projects in the Galilee Basin are at high risk of becoming stranded assets. 

“Project financiers are right to question whether it is worth endangering the world’s largest coral reef system for such a risky investment,” concludes Ms. Palese.