House Judiciary Committee Targets ESG Investing as GOP Gets Ready to Take Majority

Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Photo via AP

As Republicans get ready to take the gavels in the various House Committees, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is putting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing on the agenda for the Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, Republicans launched an investigation into whether the coordination among members of groups leading the ESG movement could violate anti-trust laws.


The opening of a letter to two members of the steering committee for Climate Action 100+ pointed out that the concerted activity among member organizations could be an issue. It appears Jordan and the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee want more information about how these groups work together with asset managers and member companies. In addition to asking for a trove of documents, the letter notes:

An individual company’s use of corporate resources for progressive aims might violate fiduciary duties or other laws, harming its viability and alienating consumers. But when companies agree to work together to punish disfavored views or industries, or to otherwise advance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, this coordinated behavior may violate the antitrust laws and harm American consumers.

The letter also notes that many domestic corporations in the U.S. “increasingly march in unison in advancing progressive policy goals.” The letter correctly points out the very public left-wing activism of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.

It also explains that ESG is partisan left-wing politics masquerading as responsible corporate governance and that climate is just one facet.

The list includes, for example, “climate change (e.g., reporting on climate change, risks of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions goals)”, “sustainability reporting,” and other “energy-related ” issues. ESG goals can also include other policy concerns such as “fake news dissemination” or “gun control.” Access to abortion has even become part of ESG,” the letter asserts.


Climate Action 100+ calls itself “an investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.” The group boasts 700 global investors responsible for over $68 trillion in assets under management across 33 markets. The group is comprised of investor networks in different parts of the globe.

Related: Another Way the SEC Under Biden Is Helping Activists Take Over Corporate America

The U.S. investor network is a not-for-profit called Ceres. According to its website, Ceres “advances leadership among investors, companies, and capital market influencers to drive solutions and take action on the world’s most pressing sustainability issues.” It is funded by the usual cadre of left-wing foundations, including the New Venture Fund, which is part of the elaborate dark money group Arabella Advisors. Ceres Chief Executive Officer and President Mindy Lubber is a founding member of Climate 100+, the investor network representative, and one of the letter’s recipients.

The other recipient of the letter is Simso Nzima, managing investment director of Global Equity for the California Public Employees Retirement System. He serves as the other investor representative for North America. Additional U.S. investors involved in the group include large asset managers such as BlackRock and State Street. Climate 100+ also has 166 “focus companies” in targeted industries with $10.3 trillion in revenue.


It would be reasonable to question why a company like Exon Mobile or Duke Energy would join “an investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.” Climate Action 100+ publishes assessments on their target companies’ “progress” towards making climate change risk central to the organization’s mission, achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and completing disclosures about emissions.

Climate Action 100+ engages in boardroom activism by flagging shareholder proposals for consideration during proxy season. The SEC under President Joe Biden allows for this kind of activism. The agency has continually lowered the bar for shareholder proposals by removing the requirements that proposals are pertinent to the business’s core operations.

BlackRock and State Street also belong to the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. They commit to having a portion of their assets under management invested in alignment with achieving net zero by 2050. Achievement includes “Implement[ing] a stewardship and engagement strategy, with a clear escalation and voting policy, that is consistent with our ambition for all assets under management to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.” It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that Ceres is one of the listed partners for Net Zero.


Related: Florida Withdraws $2 Billion from BlackRock Over ESG Investing

So, Climate Action 100+ flags proposals on climate impact reporting and emissions reduction targets in their member companies. Once Climate 100+ flags the proposals, asset managers like BlackRock and State Street with large proxy voting blocs take note and push these initiatives. The giant asset managers can also impact board elections. In one very public example, BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard coordinated to place three activists on Exxon Moblie’s board.

Since then, the oil and gas giant has reportedly:

  • Committed to investing $15 billion over the next six years to advance low-carbon solutions.
  • Announced ambition for net-zero emissions in company assets and purchased electricity by 2050.
  • Agreed to publish an annual report outlining the company’s strategic plans to achieve net zero.
  • Added the Low Carbon Solutions business unit as one of three units around which the company is organized.
  • Brought in an external hire to lead the Low Carbon Solutions business unit.

To be clear, Exxon Mobil is in the process of spending at least $15 billion of other people’s money during a global energy shortage doing something different than finding and retrieving as much oil and gas as possible. The company is also incurring costs in data collection and reporting these non-core activities. All because three large asset managers that were part of the Net Zero Alliance pushed three environmental activists onto the company’s board.


What Jordan and Republicans may want to consider is that the reasons the focus companies engage in Climate Action 100+ and adopt progressive policies might be appeasement and access to capital. The bully only needs to beat up one kid on the playground to keep everyone else in line. Exxon Mobile was that kid for the large asset managers and the activists in Climate 100+. To set the market free from ESGs, the boardroom activism and coordination between capital managers must end.


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