In an article for USA Today, Jessica Guynn summarized the current debate between those who advocate for ESG investing and those who see it as a disguise for ‘woke capitalism’. In contrast, supporters of ESG see these factors as being critical to their investing process. For instance, they see preparations for climate change as part of a managers’ fiduciary duty given its potential impact on asset values.
These tensions came up at the House Oversight Committee meeting last week as Representative Rankin was critical of anti-ESG attacks which he said were coming at the behest of the fossil fuel industry. In turn, Republicans were equally harsh as they countered that asset managers should only consider financial information and that by considering non-financial factors, they were risking the retirement savings of American workers.
At the state level, 17 Republican Attorney Generals jointly filed a motion to block Blackrock from advocating for ESG principles for utility companies.
Many of those opposed to ESG see it as preventing energy companies from making sufficient long-term investments that are necessary to continue fossil fuel production and blame it, in part, for the inflation and oil spike during 2021.
Finsum: ESG investing continues to be a source of political conflict. These tensions came to a head at a contentious House Oversight Committee meeting.