Investment professionals are warning that a Republican campaign seeking to wipe ESG off the financial map puts at risk the savings of ordinary Americans caught in the political crossfire.
Environmental, social and governance investing is now under attack in the world's largest economy. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week banned state pension funds from screening for ESG risks. Texas is seeking to isolate financial firms it says are hostile toward the fossil-fuel industry. And in Arizona, Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters has characterized ESG scores as an existential threat to America.
The development represents a rapid escalation of aggression toward an investing form that few people even knew existed five years ago. But the finance industry, which has embraced ever more ESG products promising to address issues like climate change and inequality, is starting to strike back, arguing that Republican policies put the financial security of US savers in serious jeopardy.
“DeSantis’s decision is clearly tied to politics because it’s certainly not in the best interest of pension fund beneficiaries,” according to Bryan McGannon, director of policy and programs at US SIF, a Washington-based group that supports sustainable investment businesses. “Reading between the lines, DeSantis is ultimately saying that climate change is a non-pecuniary issue putting the long-term savings of Florida pensioners at risk. That just doesn’t make sense.”