BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink has argued that natural gas will play a “key role” in the global drive to cut carbon emissions and again praised the European Union (EU) decision to label some such investments as sustainable .

In the September 15 recorded discussion with Carlos Torres Vila, chairman of Spanish bank BBVA, Fink said it would likely be impossible to phase out hydrocarbons in the next 20 years. He described gas as “obviously less pollutive than other forms of hydrocarbons,” and argued that it would play a role in the “balancing act” of shifting away from fossil fuels.

Fink also praised the EU decision to include natural gas and nuclear plants in its sustainable investment rulebook if they meet certain criteria.

Whilst the energy crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “may have had a bearing on the assessment,” Fink said he was “very pleased the Eurozone finally has said gas is green.”

BlackRock has been criticized by several Republican U.S. politicians in recent months, with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar including the fund manager on a list of 10 financial companies that allegedly “boycott energy companies.” Hegar said the list would restrict the state’s pension funds and other state entities from investing in companies that divest from fossil fuels.

The fund manager has also attracted criticism from environmentalists who argue it doesn’t do enough to push for reform at fossil fuel companies.

On September 9, BlackRock Senior Managing Director Dalia Blass defended its policies on climate risk and ESG investing stating that the fund manager is actually “among the largest investors in public energy companies and has hundreds of billions of dollars invested in these companies globally.”

Looking to the future, Fink said energy companies should look to develop technology to capture, use, and store carbon emitted from the industry, adding that “the major energy companies of the world today are going to be the leaders in sequestration of carbon.”