Rep. Renner has it wrong: ESG investing is a responsible approach | Opinion

Vehicles travel near high-power transmission towers in downtown Los Angeles. As California stretched into its second week of excessive heat, the California Independent System Operator, the entity that oversees the state’s electrical grid, issued a Stage 3 alert allowing it to draw on emergency power sources.

According to Rep. Paul Renner, Speaker-designate of the Florida House of Representatives, following sound environmental, social and governance goals (ESG) is threatening our pocketbooks, national security and even democracy.  What he wrote is alarmist and the kind of extreme conservative language that is bad for Florida.  ESG investing is a responsible approach and good for all of us.

A January 2022, article from Skybound Wealth management reported that “Its (ESG) popularity is booming. It is now attracting more investment than any other area in the world.  It’s predicted that ESG investments will reach over $50 trillion by 2025, or about a third of all the money invested globally. More than 4,000 investment firms, including some of the biggest on the planet, have pledged to commit to ESG investing by signing the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investing.”

Truth be told, Renner arrived, in part, at his extreme position from reading too much fossil fuel propaganda, because he said that “if we want a clean energy future”, which most informed people do versus a world on fire, “we cannot achieve ESG’s net zero carbon goals on the timeline demanded without inducing an energy crisis and skyrocketing prices.” This is alarmism and not true.  He also wants you to think that climate change is not serious. He called it “climate alarmism”. His views ignore science and the fact that the planet is passing one disastrous climate tipping point after another that are irreversible.

More: ESG Threatens our pocketbook, our national security, and our democracy | Opinion

He also appears to be advocating for the American Legislative Exchange Council’s campaign to kill ESG investing.  To read more about this national campaign to stop ESG investing, check out this article.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s behavior used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments. They are voluntary and aspirational, meaning a firm can choose to use them or not and an investor can choose to invest in companies based on them or not.

Environmental criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including addressing climate change. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

Does this sound like it threatens national security and democracy?  It sounds like what states who invest public funds should already be doing.

Responsible investing is so important to the financial welfare of this country, that the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) recently proposed a rule “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures”.  It reflects our reality and is completely opposite to what Renner wrote, because climate change is threatening the financial and national security of this country and the world.

In an April 2021 a Milken Institute Review article, entitled The Necessity of Doing Well by Doing Good, the authors stated, that “Social responsibility and sustainable profit go hand in hand, now more than ever.  The depth of the economic challenges we currently confront means the first is needed to deliver on the second.” Our profits depend being responsible investments.

The ESG guidelines promote morality and our collective welfare and help protect our economy and security. Contrary to what Renner said, they are not a threat to democracy, national security, or our pocketbooks.

Renner’s views are extreme, science-free, and have no place in Florida government.

Pam McVety

Pam McVety is a climate activist and retired scientist living in Tallahassee.


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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Rep. Renner has it wrong: ESG investing is a responsible approach | Opinion