The latest trend for many multinational corporations and financial institutions is the adoption and implementation of so-called ESG — environmental, social and governance — scores that measure how companies deal with things like climate change and social justice issues and often specifically work to boycott or diminish production and reliance upon fossil fuels like oil and natural gas.
Given how prominent oil and natural gas production is in the Texas economy, the state’s Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hager just restricted the ability of 10 ESG-focused financial firms to do business in the Lone Star State, the Daily Caller reported.
The Republican official, who launched a review of such companies in March, released a list Wednesday of those firms that are now largely banned from entering into new contracts with state and local entities and begins a process by which existing agreements will be divested.
Listed companies “working to directly undermine our state’s economic health”
“The environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients, but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy,” Hager said in a news release.
“Our review focused on the boycott of energy companies, rather than a review of the entire ESG movement,” he continued. “This research uncovered a systemic lack of transparency that should concern every American regardless of political persuasion, especially the use of doublespeak by some financial institutions as they engage in anti-oil and gas rhetoric publicly yet present a much different story behind closed doors.”
“This list represents our initial effort to shine a light on entities that are engaging in these practices and create some clarity for Texans whose tax dollars may be working to directly undermine our state’s economic health,” Hager added.
“False narrative” about fossil fuels driving foolish ESG investment strategies
According to the Daily Caller, the list released by Hager includes multinational corporations and financial institutions like “BlackRock Inc., UBS Group AG, BNP Paribas SA, Credit Suisse Group AG, Danske Bank A/S, Jupiter Fund Management Plc, Nordea Bank ABP, Schroders Plc, Svenska Handelsbanken and Swedbank AB.”
Hager went on his statement to decry the challenge posed by the “lack of transparency” by these and other companies and acknowledged that the list could change in the future as certain companies were added or removed depending upon further information with regard to their respective stances on oil and natural gas production.
“A diverse energy portfolio is necessary for Texas to meet our future energy needs, and a vibrant Texas oil and gas industry is a stabilizing force in today’s economic and geopolitical environment,” he said.
“My greatest concern is the false narrative that has been created by the environmental crusaders in Washington, D.C., and Wall Street that our economy can completely transition away from fossil fuels, when, in fact, they will be part of our everyday life into the foreseeable future,” Hager added. “A complete divestment of the industry is not only impractical and illogical but runs counter to the economic well-being of Texas and our citizens.”
BlackRock fires back
For what it is worth, Bloomberg News reported that BlackRock issued a statement in disagreement with what the Texas comptroller had done and accused him of “politicizing state pension funds” that, according to Hager, have roughly 30 days to begin the process of divestment from the listed companies.
“This is not a fact-based judgment,” the company insisted. “BlackRock does not boycott fossil fuels — investing over $100 billion in Texas energy companies on behalf of our clients proves that. Elected and appointed public officials have a duty to act in the best interests of the people they serve.”