Heritage Foundation unveils initiative opposing ESG policies pushed by 'woke' corporations


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The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has launched a campaign against economic policies known as ESG that it says are being used by the Left as a social credit score to force businesses and financial institutions to adopt progressive ideologies across the globe.

ESG, which stands for environmental, social, and governance, is a set of criteria used by some institutions to screen investments based on a company’s commitment to certain policies or values which the Heritage Foundation says is being used to promote a radical progressive agenda, specifically on climate change, in the United States. 

"Under ESG, traditional American energy like oil and gas is punished and the Left’s ‘woke’ cultural agenda is implemented from the boardroom down to the factory floor," the website for the new Heritage Foundation program, named ESG Hurts, states. "This agenda is being pushed by green activists, woke culture warriors, global elites, and the big businesses they control."

Andrew Olivastro, vice president for outreach at Heritage Foundation, told Fox News Digital that ESG is a "direct assault on the free market economy" due to its incompatibility with self-governance.


President Joe Biden speaks during the “Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment” event  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool, File / AP Newsroom)

"What you see is today's political left is decidedly intolerant and can not stand a people that can self govern because it reduces their power and control," Olivastro said. "So ESG can be seen as this grand umbrella for what is often celebrated as public private partnerships but it's really the nexus of the administrative state and the managerial class."

ESG has become a growing concern among conservative critics as they accuse the movement of ultimately doing harm to consumers and business owners by prioritizing social justice and the green agenda.

The Heritage Foundation argues that Americans can protect the environment without implementing the negative toll that ESG policies bring.

"Americans should know that #ESG is not at all the same thing as environmental stewardship," Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts tweeted Wednesday. "We can be morally upright stewards of nature, of what God has given us, while realizing that ESG actually gets in the way of human flourishing."


U.S. climate envoy John Kerry gestures as he speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 13, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman (Reuters Photos)

"ESG is a political tool used by progressives to advance Leftist ideology in businesses and financial institutions," the ESG Hurts website reads. "From requiring NASDAQ-listed companies to appoint board members based on race and sex, to requiring greenhouse gas emissions to be reported, ESG is destroying our free market and threatens both American interests and our cultural fabric of freedom, choice and liberty."

One of the companies that conservatives have taken issue with, the BlackRock money management firm, holds nearly $9 trillion in assets and some say it stands to profit from the U.S. government's adoption of ESG. According to conservatives, BlackRock uses its massive clout to push a radical agenda on consumers using its global portfolio to push ESG standards that prioritize green energy infrastructure like wind and solar development over traditional fossil fuel investments.

"BlackRock’s market manipulation towards net-zero emissions delivers human suffering," Olivastro told Fox News Digital. "Their ESG addiction is incompatible with human flourishing."

The effects and spread of ESG policies have become more prevalent in government as well as the private sector. Last year, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced the creation of a Climate and ESG Task Force aimed at "increasing investor focus and reliance on climate and ESG-related disclosure and investment."

BlackRock offices in New York City. (Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Climate risks and sustainability are critical issues for the investing public and our capital markets," SEC Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee said in a statement at the time. "The task force announced today will play an important role in enhancing and coordinating the efforts of the Division of Enforcement, the Office of the Whistleblower, and other parts of the agency to bolster the efforts of the Commission as a whole on these vital matters."

The move prompted backlash from dozens of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who worried that small businesses and local farms would be negatively affected. 

"Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., — specifically unelected SEC staff — who have no jurisdiction over environmental policy and who have never stepped foot on a farm should not have such influence over how farmers take care of their land," a letter from the lawmakers to the SEC said.


Olivastro told Fox News Digital that ESG represents a push by the Left to "weaponize capital" in order to "change the way corporate America operates."

"CEOs who let their businesses be treated as vessels for left wing activism and cultural indoctrination deserve our scrutiny and our ridicule," Olivastro said.

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