BlackRock Joins Investors in Flagging Barrier Reef Eco-Risks

The potential threats posed by coal and natural gas projects to the Great Barrier Reef are sparking everything from lawsuits to tweets from Hollywood stars.

They’re also prompting close scrutiny from investors as a global campaign against fossil fuels gains momentum.

Asia’s surging energy demand is fueling about $65 billion of liquefied natural gas and coal terminal construction on Australia’s northeast coast. Environmental and community groups argue that this development can harm the reef - the planet’s largest living structure and home to 30 species of whales and dolphins - as well as add to global climate change concerns.

“It’s a huge issue potentially for any company operating in the Great Barrier Reef if there is a failure of management systems from an environmental perspective,” Pru Bennett, Hong Kong-based Asia Pacific director of corporate governance and responsible investment at BlackRock Inc. (BLK), the world’s biggest fund manager, said in an interview. “The reputational damage that could be done, and the potential to lose that social license to operate, is very high.”

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Last modified onMonday, 31 March 2014 03:59