Republican elected officials seem to think they’ve found three new evil letters to pair with their favorite bugaboo, CRT, or critical race theory. This one is called ESG, which refers to investment strategies that consider environmental, social and governance issues. Critics call it “woke capitalism.” There’s just one problem: They don’t seem to understand capitalism. And flogging ESG is not only a terrible economic mistake. It will be a political loser, too.
Republican critics of ESG have focused primarily on the “E,” arguing that climate change should not factor into investment decisions. Texas has adopted a law restricting the state, localities, and pension boards from doing business with financial firms that seek to limit their exposure to fossil fuel companies. Even firms that have large investments in fossil fuels are being banned, if they dare attempt to price climate risk into their portfolio allocations. Oklahoma has enacted a similar law, and other Republican leaders are moving in the same direction. Last month, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, supported a resolution barring pension fund managers from considering ESG factors.