Russia’s invasion of Ukraine calls into question the wisdom of the environmental, social and governance movement’s policy centerpiece: restricting oil and gas investment. In addition to causing hydrocarbon shortages and strengthening the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, the coordinated effort to depress oil and gas production is potentially a violation of American antitrust law. This combination of bad policy and legal risk will likely prove too much for profit-minded ESG supporters, and the movement will lose much of its support.
ESG standards are top-down and coercive for a simple reason: Suppressing oil and gas consumption is unpopular. Given this political constraint, the ESG movement has steered clear of hydrocarbon taxation and focused on undemocratic efforts to restrict the supply of oil and gas via elite institutions, specifically corporate boards. This strategy has delivered spectacular results. Look at the movement’s victory over Exxon Mobil last year.
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