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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The biggest investor in the world has an unambiguous message for the CEOs of the companies he invests in: climate risk is investment risk.

Why it matters: Pressure from BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who controls $9 trillion, will encourage companies to report not only what their greenhouse gas emissions are today, but also what they're doing to ensure that their future emissions are in line with Paris Agreement targets that end at zero in 2050.

  • Fink announced today that he has already begun to vote his shares against managers and directors that fail to show "significant progress on the management and reporting of climate-related risk, including their transition plans to a net zero economy."

Driving the news: 61 of the world's largest companies signed on to common standards today that will allow investors to compare their progress against each other on an apples-to-apples basis.

  • The standardized metrics are global, and — crucially — have been signed onto by all four of the big accountancy companies. Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC will ensure that all companies calculate the metrics the same way.
  • They're applicable to all companies, public or private, regardless of industry or region.
  • The new standards will make life a lot easier for regulators, investors, or anybody else who wants to to judge companies not just on carbon emissions but on many other areas from water consumption to the amount of tax they pay.

Early adopters include Bank of America, Fidelity, Heineken, IBM, Mastercard, McKinsey, Nestlé, PayPal, Sony, Unilever, and many others.

  • What they're saying: "It's about companies setting clear metrics, measuring our progress, and holding ourselves accountable,” said Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

What's next: There's still a lot further to go. No regulators have mandated reporting of these standards, which aren't yet included in GAAP accounting principles.

The bottom line: "This is not the end, it's the beginning," EY CEO Carmine di Sibio told Axios.

  • Many companies will report these metrics voluntarily — but the lowest performers won't report their numbers unless and until they have to.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jan 26, 2021 - Science

Investment in the space industry overcame the pandemic's headwinds in 2020

A SpaceX launch in 2020. Photo: SpaceX

Investment in the space industry continued to grow in the last quarter of 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new report from Space Capital.

Why it matters: The space industry turned out to be far more robust in the face of the pandemic than many experts were initially expecting.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.