Is the movement that has staked some of its most lofty promises—and threats—on its self-styled reputation as the chief enemy of fossil fuel now running out of gas? Judging by the response to a slew of politically charged ESG (environmental, social, governance) proposals at an annual Tesla meeting, the answer seems to be yes.
In his recent WORLD magazine column, Jerry Bowyer points to the meeting as an example of how the tide is turning on ESG, which for years has dominated corporate board rooms desperate to appease far-left activists whose radical social and political engineering goals are often smuggled in under the ESG umbrella. Companies went along with ESG because they believed that doing so was good risk management. But ESG’s politicized agenda has created its own bevy of risks that companies ought to avoid.
“Things have gotten so bad that it’s not just the populist right who are alienated. They’ve alienated some pretty close former allies, such as Tesla, Inc.,” writes Bowyer, chief economist of Vident Financial and the editor of Townhall Finance. “The green giant of the industry had been an ESG colossus until founder Elon Musk failed to keep pace with the inevitable march of history and came out of the closet as a ‘free speech absolutist’ and defender of the underdog.”
Bowyer, who serves on the advisory council for Viewpoint Diversity Score, puts it bluntly: “If they’ve lost Tesla, they’ve lost.”
The piece from Bowyer comes just days after Inspire Investing CEO and fellow Viewpoint Diversity Score advisory council member Robert Netzly announced his firm was abandoning its years-long strategy to salvage the terminology under its “faith-based ESG” label.
Meanwhile the Heritage Foundation is also pushing back with its newly launched “ESG Hurts” campaign, which “provides background information on the dangers of ESG through written material, graphics, and a commercial,” along with “model state legislation for state lawmakers looking to protect state pensions, investments, and contracts.”
And it’s not just conservatives who are pushing back on ESG. Earlier this summer, The Economist ran a lengthy, scathing piece concluding that, “the term ESG should be scrapped” in favor of better-defined metrics that don’t make the mistake of “lump[ing] together a dizzying array of objectives.”
As Bowyer notes:
“[The] controversy is now so undeniable that the ESG industry is lashing back at the backlash. As You Sow, one of the non-profit clearinghouses for the industry, posted a quote on social media acknowledging that ‘the acronym ESG as a construct may have lost some of its luster’ and has been explaining to the shrinking faithful that the reason ‘why there’s been such a backlash against ESG’ is that it is ‘extremely effective.’ So, the new party line is basically this: ‘We’re losing so much because we win so much.’ The unspun version of that ideology pushed the movement beyond the investing public’s toleration point, and the shareholders and the voters are correcting the balance.”
Read Bowyer’s full article here.