The Beatles song “Revolution” lyrics should be required reading for all the “woke” generation pushing the “net-zero” concept. When discovering something recently it brought to mind the words of that classic! Pre-chorus 3 even had the following words: “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow“!
The ESG Revolution
We often discover, after it happens and behind the scenes; bureaucrats (federal, provincial and municipal) support politicians advocating for what they perceive as beneficial to them and do so, without regard for taxpayers obligated to pay the price for their indulgence.
Such was the case when unbeknown to most of us taxpayers those bureaucrats got together via eight publicly supported pension plans (PPP) and in a press release dated November 25, 2020 united for a cause advocated by the Federal Liberal Party. The cause was their undated agreement to push for ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors when investing our taxpayer dollars (federal and provincial) in any future investments for the benefit of their member’s pensions.
What the foregoing meant was; those “PPP” agreed to impose ESG standards on publicly traded and private companies. The impact would be on those companies ability to attract PPP as either shareholders or lenders for debt raising via bond issues, etc. Those public sector pension plans at the time of the signing of the agreement held $1.6 trillion in assets which was close to what Canada’s GDP (gross domestic product) was in 2020 at US $1.57 trillion. A reflection on the power they hold over us lowly taxpayers! The agreement is not only undated and mind boggling but also not in tune with most taxpayers as to how they should allocate our tax dollars that created their $1.6 trillion value.
The full text of the short but “undated” and compelling agreement follows:
“Companies and investors must put sustainability and inclusive growth at the centre of economic recovery
COVID-19 continues to impose a huge toll on our daily lives, impacting families, businesses, public institutions and civil society worldwide. The pandemic and other tragic events of 2020 have revealed pre-existing business strengths and shortcomings with respect to social inequity, including systemic racism and environmental threats.
It is imperative we rebuild our economies in ways that create greater systemic resiliency and inclusive growth. The time to act is now, and each of us has a role to play. We call on companies and investment partners to help drive lasting change by placing sustainability at the centre of their planning, operations and reporting.
As CEOs of Canada’s eight largest pension plan investment managers, representing $1.6 trillion in assets under management, we are committed to creating more sustainable and inclusive growth by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into our strategies and investment decisions. It is not only the right thing to do, it is an integral part of our duty to contributors and beneficiaries. Doing this will unlock opportunities and mitigate risks, supporting our mandates to deliver long-term risk-adjusted returns.
To deliver on our mandates, we require increased transparency from companies. How companies identify and address issues such as diversity and inclusion, human capital, board effectiveness and climate change can significantly contribute to value creation or erosion. Companies have an obligation to disclose their material business risks and opportunities to financial markets and should provide financially relevant, comparable and decision-useful information. While we recognize companies face a myriad of disclosure frameworks and requests, it is vital that they report relevant ESG data in a standardized way.
We ask that companies measure and disclose their performance on material, industry-relevant ESG factors by leveraging the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework to further standardize ESG-related reporting. While the SASB standards focus broadly on industry-relevant sustainability reporting, the TCFD framework calls for climate-specific disclosures across several reporting pillars (governance, strategy, risk, and metrics and targets). Both are useful to investors and informative to companies working to frame their ESG reporting.
We are confident the ability to successfully address and adapt to these 21st-century business risks and opportunities is a distinguishing feature of great companies. While for many this will require greater ambition than in the past, we believe companies demonstrating ESG-astute practices and disclosure will outperform over the long-term.
For our part, we continue to strengthen our own ESG disclosure and integration practices, and allocate capital to investments best placed to deliver long-term sustainable value creation.
Inspired by this historic opportunity to help confront the most urgent challenges facing our global community, we ask others committed to our vision to join us on this journey towards a more sustainable future.“
The eight CEOs who signed the agreement represented the following public pension plans:
Alberta Investment Management Corporation, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board!
The reference to SASB and TCFD in the agreement suggests these two UN inspired creations from a 2004 letter sent by Secretary General Koffi Annan to 50 CEOs of major financial institutions have completely revised the way we have been measuring financial performance over the centuries. It suggests 2 + 2 no longer equals 4! To pretend companies will become “great” by adopting ESG factors flies in the face of all logic. The “E” (environmental) in ESG is what the Mark Carney, Michael Bloomberg political fans and eco-warriors have focused on and if the punishment of the middle and lower classes continues under their direction and the politicians they have influenced, we should expect:
As the Beatles opined “You say you want a revolution”!
NB: The Washington based “Institute for Pension Fund Integrity” in a report concluded: “Although there are over $20 trillion in ESG assets under management, it lacks a standardized definition under which all firms can unite and under which regulators can address legitimate concerns.“