DTwo leaders of the asset management giants BlackRock and State Street descended on the small town of Marshall (Texas), Thursday, December 15, to explain their investment policy and its impact on the pension funds of the ‘State. Dalia Blass and Lori Heinel did not expect to be received with flowers by the elected Republicans of the first oil state of the country. Their crime? Integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into their investments – unforgivable drift “woke” which penalizes savers and threatens the Big Oil majors. It is time to return to the principle of the best return on investment, the foundation of capitalism, the accusers have argued. And too bad if the chain of natural disasters confirms the acceleration of climate change and the urgency of genuine green finance.
Vanguard, world number two in the sector with 6,700 billion euros in assets under management, escaped the wrath of elected Texans: a few days earlier, it had announced its withdrawal from the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, the largest global alliance for more sustainable financing of the economy. His departure caused a shock, even if he was not the best pupil of the club of 291 multinationals who promised to “support the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050”. He justified it by “clarity” that it owes to its investors in the index funds where it invests their capital. Diversified in all sectors, including hydrocarbons, it is difficult for these funds to present themselves as sustainable.
For months, the American hard right has been unleashed. She does not limit herself to castigating the“hypocrisy” of ESG funds and the (questionable) inadequacy of their performance. Governors, senators and prosecutors accuse BlackRock, Vanguard or State Street, and other investors, of dispossessing savers of their votes and doing everything to stem the flow of capital to the coal, oil and gas sector, sources of profits, jobs and energy security. ESG is a hated label among Republicans fed on petrodollars for ages.
The offensive is carried out in all directions in twenty “red” states, until it becomes a war of values. The most reactionary have created an “antiwoke” bank in Dallas. GloriFi is intended for savers wishing to promote “the love of God and his country”, in other words the war on abortion or the defense of weapons and fossil fuels. Texas has drawn up a blacklist of financial institutions deemed hostile to the hydrocarbon industry. West Virginia, Alaska and Louisiana, where coal, gas or oil weigh heavily, are on a war footing. Elected officials agitate the arsenal of antitrust laws to denounce agreements between defenders of the environment within these green funds. Some are calling on the financial markets watchdog, the SEC, to investigate BlackRock’s activities in China. Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida, withdrew from the New York giant the management of 2 billion in assets, a necessary step for the rising star of the Grand Old Party, two years before the presidential election.
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