So, check this out. This past weekend while perusing the YouTube app on my TV, suddenly, without any notice and completely out of nowhere, I was mesmerized when I came across the video of all the acts at Live Aid. This “live” concert took place the summer of 1985 out of London, England and was broadcast around the world via satellite. It featured all the bands that I would have traveled anywhere to see.
Now, all these years later, right in front of me – once again but this time on wide screen – is Sting (The Police). Man, he looked like a baby. A few minutes later there’s Bono (U2) running around kissing random girls in the audience. I know you’re thinking that I’m showing my age but just relax and hear me out.
You see, at the time I could have quoted to you every word to just about every song from the headline acts at Live Aid BUT I could NOT have told you that its purpose was to raise money for a famine in Ethiopia.
Either I hadn’t heard or had not paid attention to the message that there was this problem and that these folks had set out to cure it. I frankly don’t remember anyone associated with the broadcast getting into the details of that message. I just remember it seemed pretty cool that me and a bunch of my friends were getting together over a common theme – a quasi-live concert - and that this event was the topic of conversation among most of our acquaintances.
The topic at hand, gentle reader, is all the rage over ESG investing and how the climate change crowd has hijacked that space and the threat – in my opinion – that they pose. If you’re not aware of this, I suggest you pay attention because I believe there could be serious negative consequences for things like our retirement plans and other investment vehicles.
First, a few things that you’ll want to bear in mind and possibly reference for yourself:
- ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance
- ESG is synonymous with socially responsible investing
- Historically this “style” of investing involved clients that did not want their monies invested in businesses involved in fields like alcohol, tobacco, military defense contractors or those with factories located in countries associated with human rights abuses, etc.
- https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-01-23/bofa-sees-esg-as-a-mandatory-input-into-the-investment-process-video <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2020-01-23/bofa-sees-esg-as-a-mandatory-input-into-the-investment-process-video>
Here is my synopsis on the situation as it stands currently.
Considering the following:
- The “climate change” crowd says that emissions from various sources but mainly plants and factories spanning many different industries are responsible for rising global temperatures and with them a rise in sea levels.
- groups like ClimateAction100 are seeking to dictate:
- Changes in corporate strategy
- The way corporate assets are used (read asset allocation).
- The amount that the target corporations spend on and the type of new technology employed to combat climate change.
- Demands that the “target companies” commit to goals outlined in the Paris Agreement such as keeping global average temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
- Install board members committed to the goals dictated by such groups.
- Force new disclosures aimed at addressing progress made on reaching stated climate goals
A few of my questions and concerns are:
- While temperatures and sea levels are observable, that is, they can be measured, to my knowledge we do not know THE cause.
- Can we actually dictate global temperatures? That comes across to me as having a touch of what’s referred to as a “god complex”.
- The Pre-Industrial age is generally referred to as the time before there were machines which is prior to the late 1700’s. So, they want to take us back to that time? Surely, they can’t be serious. You’d think they would clarify such points in bold type.
- These folks do NOT know that the actions they are prescribing as the cure will actually work.
- In my opinion the scope of this exercise (if successful) in terms of the number companies and industries affected and the scale of dollars spent will result in:
- significantly reduced profits and stock market returns
- increased consumer prices – a.k.a. inflation
- companies and maybe entire industries that no will no longer exist.
You know I really enjoyed watching those old bands. This time, however, my perception was different. Back in July of 1985, with all the hype around Live Aid, nowhere did I hear or read anyone ask the question: Why is Africa poor? Maybe that would have been a good thing to figure out before raising a bunch of money that would never be spent on food (rather, on weapons for rogue militias, I read).
I don’t see or read where the important questions are being asked nor where the activist folks are being forced to answer such. It’s one thing for a 19-year-old to have less than informed opinions on important matters and to have a different view on what’s in vogue but then again that person isn’t in charge of TRILLIONS of dollars of others people’s money. This very well may be another misguided effort but this time with much greater consequences.
In one of the many hit singles that The Police produced, the lead singer/songwriter, Sting asked the question “how can you say you’re not responsible?” and suggested the answer was simply “too many cameras not enough food”. My response, old buddy: bad question and an even worse answer. One thing we can agree on though, the lack of daylight on these shams makes me want to cry too.