Op-Ed: S&P Global says sayonara to ESG scores – sort of



On August 4, S&P Global Ratings, one of the largest and most influential credit rating agencies in the world, announced, “effective immediately, we are no longer publishing new ESG credit indicators in our reports or updating outstanding ESG credit indicators.”

S&P’s Friday news dump is welcome news to opponents of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores, however, it should be taken with a grain of salt.

According to S&P Global Ratings, “we have determined that the dedicated analytical narrative paragraphs in our credit rating reports are most effective at providing detail and transparency on ESG credit factors material to our rating analysis, and these will remain integral to our reports.”

In other words, S&P Global Ratings is saying that they will no longer publish “alphanumeric ESG credit indicators.” Yet, in the same letter, the company also affirmed that it will continue to provide “research and commentary on ESG-related topics, including the influence that ESG factors can have on creditworthiness.”

Moreover, the company also declared that the announcement “does not affect our ESG principles criteria,” which, “articulate the principles that S&P Global Ratings applies to incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) credit factors into its credit ratings analysis.”

In one sense, S&P seems to be distancing itself from ESG scores. Yet, at the same time, it seems that this is only a token gesture, as the company will continue to implement ESG “principles” in its ratings decisions.

Interestingly, S&P’s decision to drop its alphanumeric rating scale comes just two years after it launched the massive undertaking. Even more interesting, the decision comes on the heels of a “multistate investigation into S&P Global Inc. for potential violations of consumer protection laws.”

In September 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined several other attorneys general to investigate if “S&P’s published ESG credit indicators, ESG scores, and ESG evaluations… politicize what should be a purely financial decision and…deceptively confound the distinction between subjective opinions and objective financial facts.”

“Too many consumers and investors have been hurt by the woke ESG movement’s obsession with radical social change and willingness to ignore the law,” said Paxton. “We’re investigating S&P Global to find out if they’ve engaged in the types of destructive, illegal business practices that are so pervasive in the ESG movement. If so, they will have to answer for their actions.”

Perhaps S&P Global Ratings abandoned the alphanumeric ESG score scale to get ahead of the pending investigation. Or maybe the two events are unrelated. We don’t know.

But, we do know that the backlash against ESG continues to gain steam.

Already, several states have introduced bills or passed laws that are designed to combat ESG abuse. Florida, the ultimate example, passed an anti-ESG law in May that Gov. Ron DeSantis describes as “comprehensive legislation to protect Floridians from the corporatist environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) movement – a worldwide effort to inject woke political ideology across the financial sector, placing politics above the fiduciary duty to make the best financial decisions for beneficiaries.”

Earlier this year, the face of ESG, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, asserted, “I don’t use the word ESG anymore, because it’s been entirely weaponized.”

Actually, the term has not been weaponized whatsoever. What has happened over the past year or so, to the frustration of Fink and other champions of the ESG racket, is that the public has become aware that ESG is a virtue-signaling scheme that prioritizes non-financial goals in place of maximizing returns for investors.

Fink and his brethren refer to their new financial system as “stakeholder capitalism” because they believe that companies ought to prioritize non-financial factors, such as a company’s carbon footprint and allegiance to nebulous social justice causes, even if these initiatives negatively affect the company’s bottom line and lead to reduced returns for investments.

However, most Americans, according to recent polls, think fund managers should consider “only financial factors” when making investment decisions. Furthermore, evidence is mounting that ESG funds perform worse than ESG funds.

Although S&P’s recent decision to drop its alphanumeric ESG scoring system is a slight win for the growing anti-ESG movement, much more remains to be done if we are to ultimately defeat this festering menace to free-market capitalism, individual freedom, and maximum financial returns for Americans’ nest eggs.



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