- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2023

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas, with nearly 2 million participants, has reportedly divested from BlackRock and other major firms over their investment policies locked into climate change.

The move comes in the wake of a new law in oil-rich Texas that prohibits state agencies from doing business with financial institutions deemed hostile to the fossil fuel industry because of environmental, social and governance investing, or ESG.

Brian Guthrie, executive director of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, told state officials in a recent letter that it sold shares in BlackRock and other corporations in order to comply with the law.

The letter and sell-off were first reported by Bloomberg.

It was not clear how much the teacher pension system divested from BlackRock and nine other companies, but the fund had nearly $184 billion in assets under management at the end of 2022.

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas declined to disclose a dollar figure and asked that a public record request be formally filed.

BlackRock did not immediately respond to a request for comment and questions about the amount divested.

The other firms reportedly divested from include Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, Danske Bank, Jupiter Fund Management, Nordea Bank, Schroders, Svenska, Handelsbanken, Swedbank and UBS.

The dissociation from the financial corporations is part of a larger anti-ESG war among red states and House Republicans waged against “woke capitalism.” ESG investing involves taking into consideration factors outside of just returns, such as climate change and social political issues.

Republican officials in various states have divested more than $4 billion from BlackRock, which has been deemed the ESG poster child by critics.

BlackRock has consistently rejected the anti-fossil fuel label that Republicans have slapped them with, telling The Washington Times last week that the firm had more than $200 billion invested in energy companies on behalf of clients.

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at rtouchberry@washingtontimes.com.

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