‘Common Ground’ on ESG? Only Bad Wins

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — December 6, 2022

“What if a company bases its ESG ‘politics’ not on climate model projections or ‘attribution science’ but on the consumer imperative of affordable, plentiful, reliable energy?”

“The give-away is that now that everyone knows that fossil fuels are winning and the saturation effect is closing the mitigation window, the Church [of Climate] goers will not check their premises. If they really had ‘climate anxiety,’ they would want to understand the case for CO2/climate optimism….” (RLB, below)

The exchange began on social media regarding the paper “ESG Isn’t Woke, It’s Capitalism,” by Robert Eccles. “There are a number of important points to debate about ESG from a company, investor, and public policy perspective,” he began.

This is best done with a goal of finding common ground. This webinar is another step Dan [Crowley] and I are taking to bring my Democratic side and his Republican side together on making sense of ESG. What it is and what it isn’t. What it can do and what it can’t do. Our first step was the article “Turning Down the Heat on the ESG Debate: Separating Material Risk Disclosures from Salient Political Issues.” https://lnkd.in/e_fbgzj4

Who is Dan Crowley, the other voice in the two-person discussion? A critic of ESG? Nope, a once or fake conservative/Republican trying to sell ESG to a rightly skeptical audience. Obviously, Mr. Eccles needs to engage with a real opponent about the legitimacy of ESG instead of assuming it.

I responded:

Government and politics driving ESG [is] anything other than “free market.” ESG is simply trying to get what cannot be gotten with future legislation.

To which Paul Watchman replied:

You are confusing material Investment risk factors with woke capitalism or Marxism. It is apolitical, amoral unethical and does not care a fig for Republicans or Democrats. Like all tools it has be to sharp, well-maintained and in the hands of a skilled craftsman or craftswoman.

I responded:

‘Material investment risk factors’ … What if a company bases its ESG ‘politics’ not on climate model projections or ‘attribution science’ but on the consumer imperative of affordable, plentiful, reliable energy? More oil, gas, and coal for the people–and help the landscape by avoiding industrial wind turbines, for example.   “Material investment risk factors” premised on climate alarmism is a shaky foundation. A political foundation

Watchman: Get the G wrong and there is little hope for anything else.

Bradley: “G” as in neutral government with the common law strictures against force and fraud. Let civil society take it from there with G removed. The ‘G’ in government (again, showing how ESG is subjective in its political essentials) should be classical liberal G as in minimal and enforcer of private property rights. Not ‘G’ as in defining good and bad for activism and enforcement in areas such as climate change.

——————

Then came a scathing response to Paul Watchman from Professor Ujjval Vyas:

What makes you think you have the brain power to create the right “G”. Your Freshfields report would have failed my classes and plenty of my other students, regardless of their political views, would have seen right through the special pleading and lack of rigor.

A few “important” titles and positions does not constitute rigor. And I for one have always had an absolute abhorrence for arguments from authority and especially argument from apparatchik authority. Let alone from an apparatchik at the UN. Please break away and start thinking for yourself rather than serving some misguided notion that you are part of God’s salvation army. It is like listening to Al Gore or other aelf-proclaimed demigods speaking from the mountaintops.

A deep abiding commitment to ethical action should make your skin crawl when demagogues abrogate to themselves the mantle of “saving the world” from the coming Apocalypse. Seek a higher level of self-examination and standards of personal ethical commitment to extirpate hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement.

Come join the rest of us mere mortals committed to ethical action without the luxury or religious fundamentalist certainty of your position as a member of the “elect”.

He said it, not me. But while Paul Watchman is very polite and learned, his inability to check his premises midstream amid failure has been frustrating. So I commented on Vyas:

This is a strong denunciation [of Watchman], but it is as if the EU/UK energy crisis did not happen, and it is business-as-usual for the Church of Climate. Very little rethink, which is easy with a sober look at climate models and an understanding of energy density. And I guess no quantity of industrial wind turbines and solar arrays is ‘too much’.

There is a huge ‘pretense of knowledge’ to believe that the economy and climate can be planned by ‘experts’ and politicians. And that government failure does not rival political [sic: market] failure. Humility is needed in climate science and climate economics and climate policy–and it is wholly missing as the congregation lives through each other with confirmation bias.

How about COP28 having debates on each aspect of the climate question? I propose that here:

Vyas responded to my comment:

Sadly, it is like asking for a public debate on Scientology or Snake Handling. It is the self-righteousness that is intolerable and the bizarre responses you get when you make the simple claim that they are the ones who are ethically suspect. Surprised they don’t have special uniforms like clerics or other members of a religious hierarchy (maybe this could also include hair shirts for the ones predisposed to wailing and knashing of teeth). Give me Montaigne over Robespierre any day. The former understood the difficulty of living a good life, the latter was sure he knew he had the answers and knew who should die and live in the new Utopia.

I responded:

The give-away is that now that everyone knows that fossil fuels are winning and the saturation effect is closing the mitigation window, the Church goers will not check their premises. If they really had ‘climate anxiety,’ they would want to understand the case for CO2/climate optimism, but that would be Atheism.

The debate continued…. But much had been said about ESG and the whole debatable premises behind it: climate alarmism and magical-thinking forced energy transformation.

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Tom Halla
December 7, 2022 10:09 am

Nominally private firms doing what the government “suggests” they do under pain of outright seizure is characteristic of Mussolini and the “corporate state”. Particularly as the government in question, at least in the US, has been unable to make such measures a matter of normal law.

Moriarty
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 7, 2022 10:30 am

You are correct that progressivism and economic fascism are one and the same. I’m probably more correct to remove “economics” from that statement and simply assert that progressivism is fascism.

Just to be clear, even if ESG measures were to be part of normal law, they would still be fascist.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Moriarty
December 7, 2022 10:36 am

Socialism comes in many flavors, and fascism is the closest to “progressivism”. The desire to “democratically” set prices and wages has no internal end point, as the level of economic distortion caused makes it difficult or impossible to tell what the real effects are.

PCman999
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 7, 2022 12:36 pm

Any student of history is getting nervous of the parallels to the communist and fascist takeover of the early 1900s and today. And by takeover I don’t mean any coups but the way people became soured on democracy and looked to strong thugs for leadership.

The way people casually suggest we need a Chinese style dictatorship to ‘solve climate change ‘ makes my blood boil – I don’t put up with fools well, especially those who are fanatical useful idiots.

strativarius
December 7, 2022 10:50 am

Some good news….

“Michael Gove has approved the first new UK coal mine in 30 years despite concern about its climate impacts among Conservative MPs and experts”. – BBC

alastairgray29yahoocom
Reply to  strativarius
December 7, 2022 11:27 am

And he is a dyed in the wool Bojo-style ignoramus of all Scientific,, Thermodynamic and Economic logic. Another nitwit who has devoted most of his career to the total destruction of the UK as a state.

strativarius
Reply to  alastairgray29yahoocom
December 7, 2022 12:04 pm

“”Another nitwit””

There’s 650 to choose from

cwright
Reply to  strativarius
December 8, 2022 2:20 am

I believe the coal would only be used by the steel industry and not for power generation.
Obviously these morons will stop the coal from being used to provide power and warmth in the midst of a freezing cold winter and a power crisis. That would be much too sensible….
Chris

Dave Andrews
Reply to  cwright
December 8, 2022 7:38 am

Yes it is coking coal and will be used to make steel. The UK’s only green MP, Caroline Lucas, was almost in tears when interviewed about the mine by Channel 4 news last night. She doesn’t seem to understand all her ‘lovely wind turbines’ would fall over if they didn’t have steel inside them

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave Andrews
n.n
December 7, 2022 10:55 am

The ethics of… ethical religion (i.e. behavioral protocol). A twilight (i.e. conflation) faith. Morality in a universal frame. Ethics its relativistic sibling. And law their politically consensual cousin.

Joseph Zorzin
December 7, 2022 11:13 am

Complicated subject a bit too dense for me, but…..

“Like all tools it has be to sharp, well-maintained and in the hands of a skilled craftsman or craftswoman.”

Where are such skilled people found?

DonM
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 7, 2022 12:35 pm

“This is best done with a goal of finding common ground.”

They are appoiinted by the same people that are intent on ‘finding common ground’ for the rest of us.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  DonM
December 7, 2022 1:26 pm

Yes, it’s called “six feet under.”

Hans Henrik Hansen
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 7, 2022 3:39 pm

“Complicated subject a bit too dense for me, but…..”
#me2 – but I find some consolation here:

Big ESG Funds Are Doing Worse Than the S&P 500In a tough year for equity investors, ESG funds haven’t offered a safe haven from market turmoil”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-12-07/big-esg-funds-are-doing-worse-than-the-s-p-500-green-insight

davidf
Reply to  Hans Henrik Hansen
December 7, 2022 4:27 pm

Very tough trying to resist the “Invisible Hand”

Peta of Newark
December 7, 2022 11:19 am

“many a slip tween cup and lip”
is not the cliche I want here but it’s something like that…

but it sums up so much of this junk, even the purveyors know that it’s all junk.

what can you say.PNG
Paul Hurley
December 7, 2022 12:12 pm

Vanguard Quits Net-Zero Group, Marking Biggest Defection Yet

The Bloomberg article is behind a paywall, but the headline and first paragraph makes it clear that Vanguard is losing interest in the ESG game.

Curious George
Reply to  Paul Hurley
December 7, 2022 2:41 pm

The Sri Lanka, a country with a top ESG score, is not mentioned in this post.

Paul Hurley
Reply to  Curious George
December 7, 2022 4:19 pm
Tony Sullivan
December 7, 2022 12:21 pm

The note from Professor Ujjval Vyas to Paul Watchman was quite the beat down. And I love it!

PCman999
December 7, 2022 12:29 pm

Just loving this:
“misguided notion that you are part of God’s salvation army. It is like listening to Al Gore or other aelf-proclaimed demigods speaking from the mountaintops.”

And:

” it is like asking for a public debate on Scientology or Snake Handling”

Ouch!

Rud Istvan
December 7, 2022 12:31 pm

The basic problem with ESG, and the likely reason Vanguard abandoned it, is that it quite plainly breaches the sole fiduciary responsibility of an investor’s custodian—maximize the investor’s financial return. That is true both in the US and UK. So advocating ESG as Blackrock does opens them to lawsuits when suboptimal performance results occur, which they eventually must in an up market.

RickWill
December 7, 2022 1:30 pm

As the northern hemisphere warms up, there will be growing demand for snow removal. This essential industry has strong growth:
https://www.prnob.com/release/show/snow-removal-market-outlook/65030

Snow Removal Market is expected to reach USD 98 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 5.8% between 2021 and 2027.

You will not see that outlook in an IPCC report.

Reality must eventually prevail.

RickWill
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 1:41 pm

Exceeding city snow clearing budgets will be a regular feature for a long time until the task becomes unmanageable.

Snow clearing budgets will be an early indicator of the increasing snowfall. One recent example:
https://regina.ctvnews.ca/city-of-regina-exceeds-snow-removal-budget-for-2022-1.6142627

According to Bien, Regina’s annual snow removal budget was $8.63 million for the 2022 year. However, the city has already spent $10.9 million.

RickWill
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 1:54 pm

When the snow just gets a bit much:
https://www.huffpost.com/archive/ca/entry/newfoundland-couple-abandons-house-completely-buried-in-snow-ph_n_4994377

Newfoundland Couple Abandons House Completely Buried In Snow

Last edited 1 month ago by RickWill
davidf
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 4:34 pm

To be fair Rick, budgets can be blown by cost inputs as easily as under predicting the required work. I imagine the cost of diesel has had a major impact this last NH winter. But, given an appropriate price leveling adjustment, it will be a very interesting metric to track.

RickWill
Reply to  davidf
December 7, 2022 5:01 pm

The cost will likely come down when the snow removal industry shifts to more efficient battery electric ploughs – ha, ha ,ha ,hah!

That could probably get on the agenda for a NY city council meeting. Using diesel powered ploughs is so last century. An obvious opportunity for Elon.

I wonder if the cost of removing snow from solar panels will take more energy than the solar panels can produce covered in snow!

davidf
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 5:11 pm

Hmm – a snow blower powered by a wind turbine in the snow jet!! At least as possible as 100% battery grid storage.

RickWill
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 1:47 pm

Snow removal is a growth industry:
https://www.mma.org/municipal-snow-removal-costs-increased-by-25-over-last-year/

Historic snowfall amounts required Massachusetts cities and towns to spend at least $50 million more for snow removal this past winter than they did the previous year, according to a statewide survey conducted by the MMA.

Snow records will be a feature of climate reporting for the next 9000 years.

John Hultquist
Reply to  RickWill
December 7, 2022 8:21 pm

That’s a 2015 report.
The problem with weather anomalies is that they tend to be episodic. Years ago, I had 3 weeks of cold (minus 15°F up to Zero). Nothing like that has happened here since. Elsewhere it may have. Another time I had 5 feet of snow between Thanksgiving and New Years.
When these events are routine – no longer anomalies – the city can apply for a government grant to move the town 500 miles south.

mleskovarsocalrrcom
December 7, 2022 2:02 pm

Anyone who has listened to Klaus Schwab gleefully wax poetic about the WEF and ESG being ensconced in governments all over the world knows the man is a megalomaniac.

DonM
December 7, 2022 4:55 pm

There are currently some pretty consistent (choreographed) talking points going around wrt ESG.

michael hart
December 7, 2022 5:37 pm

“….when demagogues abrogate to themselves…”
Perhaps you meant “arrogate”? Abrogate is pretty close to the antonym.

Last edited 1 month ago by michael hart
peteturbo
December 8, 2022 1:25 am

The ‘G’ in ESG does not stand for ‘Government’, but governance. Whilst ESG can exist at all levels, including Government, it does not relate to politics, but to management.
Governance is a move on from management in that ‘governance’ includes elements of ethics and other items possibly not recognized by traditional ‘management’.
the point being that ‘esg’ is a manner, like csr before it, of explaining, within a recognised frmaework, how you ‘run’ (aka manage / govern) your company, or other item under scrutiny.it is not needed to relate to politics at each time even though it needs to recognise its political environment to be effective.

Crispin in Val Quentin
Reply to  peteturbo
December 8, 2022 4:50 pm

I think the main point is to have unelected and therefore unanswerable “experts” run everything while taking ten times the resources per person to accomplish their critical roles in saving the planet from their lesser-lettered rubes.

Governance means government by the unelected. The WEF is the classic example. The WHO is another. Any world federation that doesn’t allows us to kick the bums out is “governance” according to ESG.

In essence, ESG is a political party that chooses your leaders. This is very slightly different from party politics as practised in the West.

Neo
December 8, 2022 1:34 pm

Vanguard Quits Net-Zero Group, Marking Biggest Defection Yet

  • The decision follows ‘considerable period’ of review
  • The firm’s pledge to net-zero group led to investor confusion
B Zipperer
Reply to  Neo
December 8, 2022 5:53 pm

As a Vanguard investor I was pleased to hear that.

The consulting firm McKinsey did a long review of the costs for NetZero back in
2020.The world’s total was ~$270 trillion, spent by 2050. So, $9T per year x 30 yrs.
The potential to misallocate investment would be extraordinarily high, but ESG would certainly worsen it. Vanguard was correct.

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability/our-insights/the-net-zero-transition-what-it-would-cost-what-it-could-bring

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