ESG or “Environmental, social, and corporate governance” is, to put the matter bluntly, a device for bullying companies into putting other peoples’ money into left-wing causes. And in another sign of hope, they seem to be getting tired of the racket. Including the always colourful Elon Musk who called ESG “a scam” after S&P Global’s ESG index dropped his Tesla electric vehicle giant from its list while including ExxonMobil. Prompting NBC to stammer that “Some climate advocates – who see Musk as having made real gains in reducing the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels – wonder why Musk, of all the world’s billionaires, has touched such a nerve on the left.” Gee. That’s a tough one. Must have something to do with reality. As the Manhattan Contrarian says out loud “I think that he has recognized that the net zero utopia necessary for Tesla to have continuing exponential growth is impossible and not going to happen.” And not only has the world’s richest man soured on ESG, so, apparently, has the world’s largest asset manager.
Yes, BlackRock, the investment giant PowerLine calls “[p]erhaps the number one force behind ESG” as well as “the world’s largest asset manager with $10 trillion under management”, just executed a sharp and suspiciously timed U-turn. The Telegraph reports that
“BlackRock has warned it will vote against most shareholder green activism this year for being too extreme, in a significant u-turn by the world’s biggest money manager. The company said it was concerned about proposals to stop financing fossil fuel companies, including forcing them to decommission assets and setting absolute targets for reducing emissions in their supply chains. It comes as BlackRock said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted the transition to net-zero, adding that short-term investment in traditional energy sources is now required to boost security.”
Gosh. Ya think? If so ya aren’t alone. As the Telegraph added, “Last week, Barclays also defied green activists with a pledge to invest in new oil and gas projects to help Europe wean itself off Russian fossil fuel.” Then it quoted various loopy statements by BlackRock CEO Larry Fink as recently as 2020 about how climate change was worse than the worst thing ever.
So why is this volte-face suspiciously timed? Because, the Telegraph then noted, “On Thursday, Vivek Ramaswamy, a US health and technology entrepreneur, launched an ‘anti-woke’ investment fund that will urge companies to focus on making money rather than championing political causes” and that Ramaswamy “said the new venture, Strive Asset Management, has already received a host of job applications from employees at BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street – what he dubbed an ‘ideological cartel’.”
Wuk wuk wuk. And BTW Mr. Ramaswamy, you might want to telephone a man named Stuart Kirk.
Other companies still seem determined to learn the hard, and costly, way. Parker Gallant notes that insurance giant Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, headquartered in Germany, faces massive losses from the sinking of the Felicity Ace in the Atlantic with thousands of vehicles aboard after a massive fire involving, you guessed it, EV batteries.
Gallant asks “if the loss of the ship and its cargo are eventually blamed on EV batteries, one should wonder; will Allianz drop their membership in the UN Net-Zero Insurance Alliance?” Because it’s not just one ship. Allianz was a huge promoter of Germany’s disastrous Energiewende that left the nation geopolitically as well as economically vulnerable. (For instance imagine a headline “Germany reduces street lighting to cut costs” in 2022 not 1922. Except you don’t have to, because it’s real. As is “EU accepts it will burn more coal in move away from Russian gas”) But that single ship fire could cost the firm $500 million. And if you lose half a billion here and half a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money.