This morning, staff from aptly named investment management company ‘BlackRock’ arrived at their swanky London offices to be greeted by waiters holding silver trays, laden with what looked like luxury chocolates. As people approached to take our Carbon Rocher, they were disappointed to find they were actually being offered lumps of coal.
Our aim in handing out coal in the City of London was to make the point that the wealth generated by London-based companies through investments in new coal power stations brings devastation to communities around the world.
We organised this morning’s demonstration outside BlackRock to coincide with a march of a thousand people to the Johannesburg offices of London-listed Anglo American, organised by South African social movement Earthlife. The march marked the beginning of what’s likely to be a string of protests around a proposed new power station in Limpopo Province. South Africa. The proposed site for this power station is just kilometres away from a number of communities, including one large town, Lephalale.
The potential local impacts from this power station are staggering. It will require 68.5 cubic metres of water per hour, further exacerbating the water scarcity already experienced by the local communities. It would produce 6,800 tonnes of ash per day, dramatically increasing already high levels of air pollution. This is in addition to the impact the carbon released would have on the global climate. The power station is proposed by both Anglo American and Vedanta in order to power their mining operations. Meanwhile a quarter of the population of South Africa, some 12.5 million people, have no access to a basic electricity supply.
BlackRock is one of Anglo American’s biggest institutional financers. It is also the largest asset management company globally. As well as being listed on the London Stock Exchange it is amongst the largest shareholder in a number of fossil fuel companies including Exxon Mobil, BHP Billiton, Shell and BP.
Without the investment from the likes of BlackRock, projects such as the planned Lephalale coal mine in South Africa would not be able to go ahead. And whilst asset managers in the City get rich off the back of these dirty investments, the lax laws around the UK financial system mean they are able to continue without regard for their contribution to climate change or to the damage they cause to the lives of people far away.
Find out more about the march by Earthlife in South Africa.