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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Investment giants are becoming increasingly prominent actors — and targets — in battles over corporate climate policy.

What's happening: The behemoth fund manager BlackRock has joined Climate Action 100+, an investor network that pushes fossil fuel companies to make new disclosures and carbon emissions commitments, adding heft to the 3-year-old group, which has already won concessions from companies including Shell, BP and Norwegian oil major Equinor.

  • The group's combined assets under management are now $41 trillion with BlackRock's addition, organizers say. Its hundreds of members include CalPERS, Allianz, and UBS Asset Management, to name a few.

One big question: Whether joining Climate Action 100+ changes BlackRock's asset management policies and voting decisions on climate-related shareholder resolutions, which it has rarely backed.

  • As the Financial Times notes, "BlackRock has voted against shareholder proposals brought about by Climate Action 100+ in the past and is under no obligation to vote for them in the future."

Quick take, per Axios' Felix Salmon: "If this means that BlackRock is going to vote its trillions of dollars worth of shares in support of climate resolutions, that could change corporate governance significantly. But no one yet knows whether it means that."

The other side: BlackRock's addition to Climate Action 100+ happened coincidentally on the same day that activists stepped up pressure on the company with the announcement of the Stop the Money Pipeline campaign, which is pressing banks and fund managers to end financing of fossil fuel projects.

  • BlackRock is among the main targets of the mobilization — whose participants include Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, EarthRights and 350.org — that brings together several existing campaigns.
  • Moira Birss of Amazon Watch and the BlackRock's Big Problem campaign, which is part of the umbrella effort, said they want BlackRock to end coal-related investments and to "prioritize fossil- and deforestation-free funds by making them the default option for all investors and clients."
  • They also want BlackRock to support shareholder resolutions that push energy companies to align their business models with the Paris climate agreement's goals.

What they're saying: BlackRock called joining Climate Action 100+ a "natural progression" of the work its "investment stewardship" team already does with many companies in their passive and active portfolios.

  • "We believe evidence of the impact of climate risk on investment portfolios is building rapidly and we are accelerating our engagement with companies on this critical issue," a spokesperson said.

Go deeper: The BlackRock affair

Go deeper

Schumer: Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

Why it matters: Trump is the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The House voted to impeach the former president last week on a single charge: incitement of insurrection for the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in five deaths.

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CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.