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Politicization of sustainability: Beginning of the end or reconducible situation? | Opinion of Alberto Andreu

Date: May 29, 2024 Time: 17:38:08

In recent times, society has become polarized in almost all areas. Coexistence orders. and the sustainability has not been left on the sidelines: in a very short time it has gone from being a meeting point (this was the case since the launch of the Global Compact in 1999 until not too long ago) to becoming today one of the central axes of political confrontationFor extreme right-wing positions, the 2030 Agenda is a “Roadmap for global totalitarianism” and for “the reduction of the population through euthanasia and abortion, and the rejection of the traditions of our Western culture and the end of private property,” as stated in this article, published in Chile in full debate on the draft constitution (which was ultimately rejected in a referendum). Added to these criticisms is the current of “woke capitalism”, where the extreme right has twisted a term (woke), an expression that was born as a call to be awake in the face of racism, homophobia or inequality, and has turned it into into a weapon thrown against the left (I recommend reading this article that HufPost published a few days ago: “Call it ‘woke’, call it dangerous: when social sensitivity becomes an ultra insult”). For positions of the more radical left, the 2030 Agenda has been taken as the Unique socioeconomic model possible against pure capitalism, and would take root, perhaps, with the Manifesto of the European Left of 2004, in which sustainability would be the key lever to challenge the “dogma of the sacrosanct market economy with competition, the power of financial markets ”. and multinationals” and the cornerstone “to make our citizens active agents of the policies carried out in their name.” These are the extremes: “global totalitarianism” vs “ending the dogma of the sacrosanct market economy.” The polarization is such that there are even those who deny the scientific evidence related to global warming presented in the IPCC documents, which show the series of average historical temperatures since 1850. But it is convenient don’t get carried away by extremes (against them it is very difficult to establish any rational debate) and identify other more rational and weighty debates that today are being constructed as the main depth charges against sustainability. These debates have their origin in the United States and are related to the role of investments with ESG criteria – what is called Sustainable Finance – and whose objective is to channel funds towards investments that take into account not only financial criteria but also those of sustainability and promote the transition towards a low-carbon economy. The first of these discussions has to do with the role of pension fund managers, which, in states governed by the Republican Party – the Grand Old Party – such as Texas, Florida, Kansas, Wyoming, North Dakota and Indiana) – have been very active against ESG investing, as highlighted in this article . . In summary, those promoting this debate believe that, if ESG investment is channeled towards companies and projects that promote the transition towards a low-carbon economy, the profitability of traditional fossil fuel companies could be put at risk…which are over which a good part of the pension funds of those states are indexed. For this reason, some governors of these States (for example, Ron de Santis, Governor of Florida and candidate for the presidency of the United States) began to enact anti-ESG legislation, alleging that it could put pensions at risk. To counter this legislation and save ESG investments, President Biden used his presidential veto and launched the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022, the most important climate legislation in US history, which provides financing, programs and incentives to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and will likely drive new renewable energy infrastructure. One more step in this anti-ESG direction is the letter that 19 Attorneys General from some Republican states addressed in August 2022 to 53 of the largest asset managers in the US, including Larry Fink, CEO of BlakRock, in which they warned them. that it could be breaching its “fiduciary duty” to manage its clients’ savings by betting decisively on ESG investments and, consequently, according to them, damaging the value of the companies of fossil companies. The second debate has to do with the alliances towards Net Zero promoted by the financial sector – among which the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) and the Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) stand out – and the insurance sector – where most prominent was the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance). In this case, the center of the controversy is also in the letter from the Prosecutors, in which they would also accuse Larry Fink, as the main promoter of the GFANZ, to promote practices contrary to the free market aimed at reducing financing for fossil fuel companies. The result of this controversy has been that some banks have left the NZBA, such as the GLS Bank of Germany, and that the insurance sector alliance has suffered a considerable exodus, since, only two years after its creation, it has been abandoned by six of its eight founders, light two articles that, perhaps, can offer arguments in favor of sustainability for those who, from more conservative ideological positions, see it as a threat to their interests or beliefs. temperature to the ESG debate: separating the report from the material aspects of the political problems”, offers arguments to those who understand that sustainability harms the capitalist system and proposes removing the sustainability report – that is, public information on this matter – from the political debate. -, understanding that ESG risks are also investment risks and must be known by any investor or financier to ensure their interests. This article has the particularity of being written in four hands by Robert Eccles and Daniel FC Crowley. recognized members of the Democratic and Republican Parties, respectively. The authors take up the doctrine of the North American Supreme Court, which ruled that a fact is “material” if there is “a substantial probability that a reasonable shareholder would consider it important in deciding how to vote,” or “a substantial probability that disclosure of the omitted fact “has been considered by the reasonable investor to be a significant alteration of the ‘total mix’ of available information.” And you only have to look back to realize that many corporate scandals that had their origin in ESG factors (Enron, Wells Fargo, WW and Dieselgate, BP…) generated enormous financial losses for their shareholders. That is to say: we continue talking about money and how to better protect it. The second article, “Thomas More and the utopia of sustainable development”, can offer arguments to more conservative profiles who, legitimately, could think that sustainability violates religious principles and natural rights. Written by Professor Julia Urabayen, from the University of Navarra, it equates the precepts derived from Thomas More’s Utopia with the 2030 Agenda, addressing the Renaissance concern for equality and well-being in the writings of Thomas More, who invented Utopí as a real life project and that today, for us, would be found in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And it is worth not forgetting that Thomas More was executed by Henry VIII for not wanting to recognize him as the visible head of the Anglican Church and remaining faithful to the Pope of Rome.. That is to say: the 2030 Agenda is perfectly accepted by the Church and would be in line with the Encyclical Laudatio Si, of Pope Francis, in which he appeals to the care of the planet as “the common home of all (curiously, both texts are from 2015). ). In conclusion, the polarization around sustainability has reached such an extreme that it is necessary to reorient the debate on its debacle. The decision by Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, to no longer use the acronym ESG because, in his words, it is an expression that has become a “weapon thrown by both the extreme right and the extreme left”, is a symptom of what is happening. I fear that this has only just begun and that either we are capable of returning to rationality, or we as humanity will lose a great opportunity, which is to create a growth model capable of thinking in the long term. Personally, I prefer to continue thinking, like Thomas More, that utopia, the utopia of returning to rationality and centralizing the debate around sustainability, is still possible.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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