Brian Deese, a policy expert who served as a senior advisor of former President Barack Obama, has been recently appointed as a Director of the National Economic Council, a body whose main function is to offer economy-related consulting services to the U.S. President.
Even though newly appointed Biden’s advisor pledged to put environmental concerns high on his priority list, various environmentalist groups expressed worries about his past activities that were allegedly not aligned with the environmental issues.
Namely, Deese has been associated with BlackRock, a New York City-based investment management firm known for its support of companies that participate in deforestation.
BlackRock possesses almost the U.S. $8.7 trillion in assets and, as such, presents one of the most significant shareholders of 25 companies that were identified as posing the highest risk for deforestation in the world.
This is why an environmentalist group Amazon Watch defined the investment company as the main global ‘investor in deforestation.’
Biden’s environmental policies or…?
During the period between 2017 and 2020, when Reese served as BlackRock’s head of sustainability, the company grew its holdings thought to be responsible for major environmental damages, such as the one caused by the plowing down of Amazon and other green regions in South America.
It is estimated that between 2014 and 2018, BlackRock’s investment in these companies has soared by over the U.S. $500 million.
These high-risk companies are thought to damage South American forests by producing various kinds of goods, including beef, paper, palm oil, pulp, and rubber.
Deese tried to explain his role in BlackRock as having to do with the assessment of the company’s financial risks posed by the concerns about climate and natural resources.
Biden’s advisor said that his job was to include these assessments into an overall investment strategy of the company.
Environmental groups are not ‘buying it’
Yet, many environmental groups voiced their skepticism about Deese’s appointment.
In a joint letter authored by Amazon Watch and other organizations, Deese was urged to clarify how he intends to deal with climate and racial issues since his involvement with BlackRock potentially contradicts the agenda set by President Biden.
Sunrise Movement NYC went even further by organizing a protest against Deese’s appointment.
Later on, the organization tweeted about Deese’s negative record of supporting the ‘bridge fuels’ during the Obama Administration and subsequent engagement with BlackRock, inviting Biden’s advisor to clarify how his way of dealing with the issues of climate justice will change.
New York Communities for Change also took to Twitter to encourage President Biden to cancel Deese’s designation.
Regardless of these calls, President Biden remained firm in his characterization of Deese as an authority regarding the climate issues.
Biden was reportedly especially captivated by Deese’s involvement in successful negotiations of the Paris Climate Agreement.
In a December statement, then-President-elect described Deese as an expert capable of helping the economy recover while at the same time taking into account dangers economic growth might pose to the environment.