Recent Reads: Anti-ESG Nonsense, Lithium Troubles, etc.
Sometimes, it feels like keeping up with the news on all things blending investments and ESG, sustainability, and corporate responsibility is a full-time job itself! For those looking for some interesting recent articles, below is a shortlist of a few of my favorites from the last week or so - inclusion does by no means imply sponsorship or endorsement.
The New Republic: The Right Has It In for Woke Investors. The Only Problem? They Don’t Exist.
From Odyssey: A wide ranging and thoughtful piece on the politicization of ESG as "woke" and the various viewpoints surrounding the debate. I always appreciate the inclusion of views from Tariq Fancy, since there are a lot of challenges within the asset management industry about integration of ESG, but I could have done without the long feature on Ramaswamy (who is himself taking advantage of the polarization to get free marketing, AND just announced his run for president, so maybe TNR shouldn't give him free press?).
The Economist: The anti-ESG industry is taking investors for a ride
From Odyssey: Again with the mention of Ramaswamy, but fortunately this article highlights one of the lesser discussed issues with the "anti-ESG" movement - higher fees. It's an issue that has been discussed on the ESG side of things as well - does it make sense to pay higher fees for something if the holdings are the same as the existing offering? Some folks, particularly regular pensioners who aren't actively involved in asset allocation decisions, are paying for the contrarian position against ESG.
Bloomberg: Rio Battles High-Bidding Carmakers in Hunt for Lithium Deals
From Odyssey: I have long touted the importance of mining and critical minerals in the transition towards a more green and sustainable economy, but we often don't see the challenges that are bubbling beneath the surface within these industries. The price of commodities are already super volatile - it's good to think about the underlying challenges that will appear if the right operators (i.e. miners) are unable to get access to the critical assets (i.e. mines) because of outside interest (i.e. corporations who may or may not have the necessary operating skills to efficiently manage the assets).
Bloomberg: GOP Governors Tout Green Bona Fides Amid Anti-ESG Backlash
From Odyssey: My favorite from the richness of the irony, but also really interesting to see how GOP is trying to thread the needle on the issue. It sort of reminds me of how folks talked about the Affordable Care Act and ObamaCare as if they were separate things, though that was of course actual legislation. GOP states have a lot to gain from the movement towards the net-zero economy, particularly when it comes to energy - it certainly behooves politicians in those states to highlight the economic benefits.
Time: Why Lebanon Is Having a Surprising Solar Power Boom
From Odyssey: I love articles like this - simple, straightforward rationale for the shift to solar. While there are certainly downsides (i.e. continued reliance on diesel generators), the reliability factor and quick pay-off for regular Lebanese is a good reminder of why those of us investing in off-grid clean power solutions do what we do. When I look at solutions that are developed here in the U.S., I'm not just looking at solutions for Americans - a lot of the high impact will come from deployment in areas like Lebanon, where the need is great and the options more limited.
Any articles that particularly resonated with you this week? Feel free to share them!