Despite it being a major investor in the fossil fuels industry, the Labour Government has signed a deal with the world's biggest investment manager. But what will be good for BlackRock won't necessarily be good for New Zealand.
IT IS INDICATIVE OF the subjugation of Parliament to the interests of capital that the Labour Government's deal with Blackrock has been embraced by all of our so-called 'parliamentary representatives'. It is especially ironic that a Labour Government that, along with the Green's, has been pursuing an agenda of so-called 'decolonisation', should welcome the world's largest asset manager inserting itself into the local economy. BlackRock, which has over $10 trillion in assets under its management, has sunk some $2 billion into what has been described as a 'climate infrastructure fund'. It is, effectively, the privatisation of policies designed to combat climate charge. The needs of capital have, predictably, trumped those of cultural nationalism. The political elite might insert 'Aotearoa' into the national conversation at every given opportunity and a Green Party politician might think she has struck a blow for national independence because she gets to wave a te reo branded block of chocolate about, but the economic status quo remains unchallenged.
Even the most pathetic of BlackRock apologists would be hard pressed to describe it as a good corporate citizen. It is the world's top investor in fossil fuels and deforestation and is up to its corporate neck in war profiteering and doing business with human rights violators.
Last year Friends of the Earth commented: 'BlackRock is responsible, through its irresponsible investments, for the suffering of vulnerable communities everywhere and we will not accept its hot air on climate."
In December last year author and activist Naomi Klein accused BlackRock of 'disaster capitalism' after Ukraine's president announced he would work with the firm to coordinate foreign investment in the country's reconstruction.
As Klein commented: 'this is going to make the neoliberalism and privatisation the U.S. inflicted on post-Soviet Russia look like child's play.'
BlackRock wants it both ways. The climate crisis is a valuable investment opportunity while it continues to pour money into the fossil fuels industry. Last year BlackRock reported it had $259 billion invested in fossil fuels around the world. And, according to a recent report, it remains the single largest institutional investor in coal, with nearly $109 billion invested in the industry.The entry of BlackRock into the New Zealand economy might well be a 'gamechanger' as Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has stated but it will it be a 'gamechanger' only in the sense that the only climate policies that will now be considered by either a Labour-led or National-led government will be those policies that meet with the approval of BlackRock. And the asset manager behemoth will not support policies that are good for society but bad for BlackRock.
This is so-called 'green capitalism' in action. As Adrienne Buller, author of The Value of a Whale: On the Illusions of Green Capitalism, observes:
'The climate crisis is an unprecedented threat to the capitalist model, but it’s also increasingly perceived by capitalist interests as a new terrain in which they can profit. To me, that is quite a big concern, because most “green capitalist” solutions, as I call them, are based around two approaches. One is doing everything possible to minimize disruption to the existing economic system and arrangements of ownership, wealth, and power. The second is to ensure that there are new opportunities for profit-making and accumulation in a rapidly changing world future.'
What the embrace of BlackRock and green capitalism also means is that the economic and political alternative, a people-centred Green New Deal, has been brushed further aside. Unlike 'green capitalism' it recognises that capitalism's endless growth paradigm can't be squared with sustainability. It envisages the state intervening in the economy in a decisive and major way.
Yet, while they support the deal with BlackRock, Green Party co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson, have actively opposed the Green Party adopting the Green New Deal as official policy, unlike other Green parties around the world. Not coincidentally, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has long been a supporter of 'green capitalism'.
We deserve better than a deal that will use the New Zealand state as a backstop for private investment and accumulation. This is 'green capitalism' and the only winner is BlackRock.
Perhaps we need to start asking ourselves whether we should allow our 'political representatives' to continue to defend a world with its present arrangements of wealth and power, or whether we should be campaigning and organising for something radically different in the transition to a decarbonised and sustainable future. One thing is certain though, it won't be a goal supported by our present set of political parties, chained as they are to capitalist interests like BlackRock.