Is the GOP war on ‘woke finances’ delaying climate action?

By | May 12, 2023

Inside Climate News reports:

Republican-led states are asking federal regulators to block the world’s largest investment firm from imposing climate-related financial practices on utilities. While the GOP’s war on so-called “woke finances” has had limited success in stemming the flow of money into clean energy, there’s growing evidence the political pressure could be delaying climate action.

On Wednesday, Republican attorneys general from 17 states filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking the agency to stop BlackRock from buying $10 million voting shares in any utility that adopts the firm’s environmental, social and governmental investing priorities—also known as ESG. That acronym has become synonymous with climate-conscious investing, meaning money managers are taking climate change and other sustainability measures into account in their decision-making.

Because the practice inherently devalues fossil fuel companies and other carbon-intensive industries, Republicans have been particularly aggressive critics of the practice. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita led Wednesday’s motion, joined by his counterparts from Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.

“These elitists are trying to impose restrictions on energy companies and utilities that would never win approval at the ballot box,” Rokita said in a press release. “Their schemes could raise utility bills for regular Americans, including elderly Hoosiers on fixed incomes, and they could diminish the value of investment accounts.”

It’s hard to definitively say how much success Republicans have had in their pushback against ESG investing. And climate activists in general are skeptical that the investment practices go far enough to make any real difference in curbing global warming—ESG funds often ignore the massive climate impact of the food and agricultural industry, for example.

But there’s growing evidence that the political pressure from Republicans is confusing the global market, which can spook investors on the fence about climate-related financing and generally slow progress when it comes to diverting money away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. That’s a problem, experts say, mostly because society is quickly running out of time to keep rising temperatures below tipping points that, once crossed, could make the climate crisis far more difficult to manage. [Continue reading…]