President Joe Biden’s top economic adviser has vowed to put “solving the climate crisis at the center of creating jobs.” But during the three years he spent in charge of “sustainability” at the world’s largest investment firm, the company increased its holdings tied to deforestation.
At first glance, Biden’s decision to install Brian Deese as director of the National Economic Council seems to align with the aggressive posture on climate issues he struck during the campaign, when he vowed to take the nation to net-zero emissions by 2050 and threatened Brazil with economic sanctions should it fail to better protect the Amazon rainforest. Biden even hailed Deese, who helped negotiate the Paris Agreement to contain global carbon emissions for ex-President Barack Obama, as the first NEC director “who is a true expert on climate policy.”
Yet Deese’s appointment nettled good government groups and progressives, since he had spent much of the Trump interregnum working for investment giant BlackRock. Perhaps more concerning to environmental activists, The Daily Beast found that during his 2017 through 2020 tenure, the massive asset manager maintained or increased its holdings in companies widely blamed for destruction of forested regions of South America—including at least one corporation co-owned by the same Brazilian government Biden threatened to sanction.