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ESG Investing Goes Quiet After Blistering Republican Attacks

“Greenhushing” is the new greenwashing as asset managers in the US try to duck controversy over sustainable investing.

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Sustainable investing was a feel-good business for Wall Street, a way for asset managers to tout their ability to make money while paying attention to companies’ carbon footprint and social impact. Then it got pulled into America’s culture wars.

The acronym ESG—for environmental, social and governance investing—was transformed from finance industry jargon into another three-letter acronym for something conservatives don’t like, alongside DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) and CRT (critical race theory). Elon Musk has attacked ESG on Twitter, and many Republicans want to cancel it. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a likely 2024 White House candidate, signed a bill in May barring the use of ESG when investing public money. Other anti-ESG bills are wending through statehouses, while GOP-controlled states have collectively pulled billions of dollars from funds run by Wall Street’s biggest ESG champion, BlackRock Inc. Speaking recently to a local Republican Party convention, Utah State Treasurer Marlo Oaks described ESG as part of “Satan’s plan.”