(The Center Square) – Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a new plan to protect Floridians from the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) movement. The plan includes proposed new legislation for the 2023 legislative session as well as administrative action.
The ESG movement “threatens the vitality of the American economy and Americans’ economic freedom by targeting disfavored individuals and industries to advance a woke ideological agenda,” DeSantis said.
“The leveraging of corporate power to impose an ideological agenda on society represents an alarming trend,” DeSantis said when announcing the new plan Wednesday. “From Wall Street banks to massive asset managers and big tech companies, we have seen the corporate elite use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not achieve at the ballot box. Through the actions I announced today, we are protecting Floridians from woke capital and asserting the authority of our constitutional system over ideological corporate power.”
According to Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V., “ESG funds are portfolios of equities and or bonds for which environmental, social and governance factors have been integrated into the investment process. … Environmental factors include the contribution a company or government makes to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions.”
Mastercard, for example, created a personalized carbon footprint tracker in collaboration with Swedish fintech Doconomy. The Mastercard Carbon Tracking product was created as an “easy-to-use API [that] allows financial institutions and merchants to embed carbon tracking inside their own digital products,” it states.
ESG, many argue, is based on the social credit score first established in China, which restricts citizens’ movements and freedoms based on their scores. When announcing the system, in 2014, the Chinese Communist Party said it was “an important component of the Socialist market economy system and the social governance system … keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful.”
“Trust” is defined by the Chinese government.
“China’s social credit system is an ambitious initiative to build a database that monitors individual, corporate, and government behavior across the country in real time. According to the Chinese government, the system will use big data to build a high-trust society where individuals and organizations follow the law,” China Briefing reports. Government authorities submit data on businesses directly through standard government inspections, which is integrated in the National Internet+ Monitoring System that analyzes the data to calculate ratings.
“Businesses are mostly assessed on standard regulatory and compliance criteria that they are already legally required to fulfill,” according to the report. “This includes paying taxes on time, holding requisite licenses, meeting product quality standards, and fulfilling environmental protection requirements,” among other industry-specific requirements.
In America, “woke elites use ESG investing to prop up far left policies, undermining our national security and raising prices for Americans,” state House Speaker Designate Paul Renner said. The Florida House will fight “to stop woke financial titans who seek to dictate policy to Floridians regardless of our choices at the ballot box.”
The 2023 legislative proposal would prohibit big banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers based on their religious, political, or social beliefs, which have been identified as contributing to the score.
It will also prohibit State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers from considering ESG factors when investing state money and require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees.
The proposed bill also would amend Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices statute to prohibit discriminatory practices by large financial institutions based on ESG metrics. DeSantis argues the metrics are arbitrary, based on political affiliation, religious beliefs, industry engagement, and ESG benchmarks. Entities that violate Florida’s ban on ESG would be considered deceptive and engaging in unfair trade practices and be penalized, according to the law.
At the next State Board of Administration meeting, DeSantis said he’s also proposing an update to the fiduciary duties of the board’s investment fund managers to exclude ESG from the state’s investment management practices.
According to a fact sheet provided by the governor’s office, ESG investors “prioritize woke corporate ideals and non-financial factors as part of their investing process,” who are “corporate cartel elites who do not represent the will of the people, but rather their investment strategies on social causes and virtue signaling while driving up costs for consumers in the name of diversity and sidelining hardworking Americans by threatening their livelihoods.”