In the early morning of January 16, 2019, a few hours before announcing their fourth-quarter 2018 earnings, Laurence Fink, CEO of the biggest asset management company, received an email copy of his annual letter to investors. There was just one problem: he had not sent the real one out yet.
The letter, posted to a website made to look like BlackRock corporate, was a hoax pressuring Fink’s company—the world’s largest owner of fossil fuels including coal—to actively reduce their stake in climate destruction. It went viral on Twitter and was covered by the Financial Times before being revealed as fake. Since then, the hoax has been described in Business Insider, Barron’s, Financial News, the New York Post, Institutional Investor, and Axios.
The rogue letter, which the Yes Men sent to the media and thousands of BlackRock employees, falsely announced that the company would be taking on climate change by laying out a series of feasible steps that would improve global stability and thus long-term returns: First, BlackRock would make all investments screen out fossil fuels by default, so that clients will need to actively opt-into societal and ecological collapse; and second, BlackRock would compel fossil-fuel companies to align their business models with the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.