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US firms like BlackRock are dropping their climate obsession while Europe ramps theirs up


8 minute read

Larry Fink on stage at the 2022 New York Times DealBook on November 30, 2022. in New York CityPhoto by Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New York Times

From LifeSiteNews

By David James

As U.S. firms such as BlackRock and JPMorgan Chase continue to distance themselves from the ESG and ‘climate change’ agendas, Europe has been moving aggressively in the opposite direction, suggesting a rift is forming on the global economic landscape.

The climate change debate is usually thought to be focused on scientific analyses of the earth’s atmosphere. But that is only what is on the surface. It is also very much about money and politics and there has been a big shift that looks likely to threaten support for the net zero initiative. It may lead to a deep economic and political rift between the U.S. and Europe.

Estimates of the cost of decarbonizing the economy by 2050 have varied, but it is generally agreed that it is a financial bonanza. Goldman Sachs is at the low end with a modest $80 trillion while Bank of America estimates an extraordinary $275 trillion, about 10 times the current value of the U.S. stock market. 

The finance sector, dizzy with the prospect of a huge investment opportunity, imposed a metric on corporations called Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), a mechanism for demanding that companies go down the net zero route – and also comply with diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) requirements, the “S” part of ESG. Corporations that did not cooperate were threatened with a loss of support in the market and lower relative share prices.  

That trend is starting to reverse. BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and State Street recently exited from Climate Action 100+, a coalition of the world’s largest institutional investors that pledges to “ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.” The passive fund Vanguard, the world’s second largest, exited over a year ago. 

These four fund managers oversee assets of about $25 trillion, which is approximately a quarter of the entire funds under management in the world.

They are changing direction for two reasons. First, there was an implicit bargain with ESG, whereby compliant companies would not only get to save the environment but also get to see their share prices outperform non-compliant companies. It is not turning out that way. In fact, better returns have come from investing against ESG-compliant companies. 

More compellingly, 16 conservative state attorneys general in the U.S. have demanded answers from BlackRock’s directors regarding the Climate Action and ESG initiatives. Other fund managers and banks have also attracted unwanted scrutiny.

Nothing concentrates the mind of fund managers more than the prospect of clients withdrawing their funds – in this case state government pension money. Larry Fink, chief executive of BlackRock, is now saying he does not think it is helpful to use the term ESG, having been one of the most aggressive advocates. In his 2022 letter to CEOs he was issuing veiled threats to companies not complying with ESG. In 2024, he omitted the term entirely.

As one (anonymous) analyst writes:  “It is a very detailed control system for European companies where the European Commission can, in the future, dictate anything it wants – and punish for any violations any way it wants. Apart from the crazy regulatory load, this initiative can only be seen as a direct seizure of operational control of European companies, and thereby the European economy.”

So, while the U.S. looks to restore an unsteady version of capitalism, Europe is heading towards some kind of climate-driven socialism. 

The EU plan seems to be to eventually direct their banks’ lending, which would radically undermine the region’s free-market system and establish something more like communist-style centralized control. 

This does not mean U.S. governments and bureaucrats will stop pushing their climate agenda. A court case brought by the city of Honolulu, for example, is one of several attempts to bankrupt the American energy industry. But when the big institutional money changes direction then corporations and governments eventually follow. 

The situation is further complicated by the emergence of the expanded BRICS alliance, which will soon represent a bigger proportion of the world economy than the G7. Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Egypt will be added to the original group of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 

The BRICS nations will not allow the West’s climate change agenda to reshape their polities. Most of them are either sellers or heavy consumers of fossil fuels. Both India and China are increasing their use of coal, for instance, which makes Western attempts to reduce emissions largely pointless. 

The promise that hundreds of trillions of investment opportunities would come from converting to net zero was always just a financial projection, mere speculation. The scale of transiting to a decarbonized economy would be so enormous it would inevitably become a logistical nightmare, if not an impossibility. 

Energy expenditure represents about an eighth of the world’s GDP. Oil, natural gas and coal still provide 84 percent of the world’s energy, down just two per cent from 20 years ago. Production of renewable energy has increased but so has overall consumption. Oil powers 97 percent of all transportation.  

Relying solely on renewable energy was never realistic and now that the financial dynamic is changing the prospects of achieving net zero have become even more remote. As the finance website ZeroHedge opines: “Both the DEI and ESG gravy trains on Wall Street are finally coming to an unceremonious end.” Financial markets continually get seduced by fads; the ESG agenda is starting to look like yet another example.


Forget Tariffs: Biden Should Look to Domestic Mining to Thwart Chinese EVs

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Fr0m Heartland Daily News

By Rick Whitbeck

The Biden administration’s decision to raise tariffs on Chinese-manufactured electric vehicles, steel, computer chips, and other technological products is the epitome of a penny wise and a pound foolish.

To much of the nation, the news was a reelection flip-flop, or an attempt to prop up the electric vehicle industry Biden has prioritized since he took office, as part of his green agenda. The international supply chain for electric vehicles isn’t going to magically stop running through the Chinese Communist Party anytime soon.

If Biden really wanted to curb Chinese geopolitical power, he would make fundamental changes to his administration’s history of attacking domestic mining opportunities. Allowing development of copper, graphite, nickel, cobalt, and other critical and strategic minerals right here at home would go much further than imposing tariffs.

Biden has demonstrated affinity for promoting “net zero” policies and forcing transitions away from traditional energy supplies of oil, gas, and coal. In a nutshell, the attacks on domestic mining projects seem completely counterproductive.

According to the International Energy Agency, staggering quantities of subsurface elements will need to be mined by at least five times their current worldwide production by 2040 to meet the Biden administration’s green energy goals. Graphite, cobalt, and lithium all will be needed in quantities exceeding 25 times (or more) their current supplies. In the next quarter century, we will need twice as much copper than has been produced in the last 3,000 years. All of which is impossible when Biden won’t let us dig.

The U.S. has tremendous opportunities to have our own mineral resources. Yet, the Biden administration has thwarted their development at nearly every turn. For example, massive copper and nickel deposits could be developed in Minnesota at the Twin Metals and Duluth Complex projects, but Biden has ordered each of them off-limits for development. The Resolution Copper prospect in Arizona met a similar fate, with the Department of Interior placing on “indefinite hold” its approval.

The Western Hemisphere’s largest copper prospect is Alaska’s Pebble Mine. Kowtowing to environmental extremists—and ignoring a clean U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Final Environmental Impact Statement—the Environmental Protection Agency continues to stymie progress on a deposit worth more than $500 billion. All the while shutting down the possibility of 700 full-time jobs in an area of rural Alaska that has seasonal unemployment exceeding 20%.

Alaska has been the target of more than 60 administrative and executive orders targeting its resource-based economy since Biden assumed office. One of the most recent took place on Earth Day, when a congressionally-authorized road to the Ambler Mining District—an area rich in copper, zinc, and other strategic and critical minerals—was stopped by the Department of Interior.

Just like with the Resolution mine in Arizona, the Interior Department used “Indigenous opposition” as its deciding factor, even though many villages and tribes closest to the mining district publicly support the project and its future employment opportunities. In Alaska, the Biden administration literally blocks the road to the minerals Biden’s tariffs claim to protect.

Alaska’s governor, Michael Dunleavy, along with its entire congressional delegation, has been openly critical of the continued hypocrisy of the Biden administration when it comes to talking “net zero” and acting with vigor to oppose domestic mining projects. The same response has come from many within the Minnesota and Arizona congressional community. They’ve been unable to break through to the administration, as Team Biden chooses to listen to eco-activists and career bureaucrats with an anti-development agenda.

What would hurt China, empower America, and begin to chip away at the global imbalance would be mining and processing our crucial minerals and elements domestically. Let’s see if the Biden administration wises up to that fact, or if America tires of being subservient to the CCP and makes fundamental changes to federal leadership in November.

Rick Whitbeck is the Alaska State Director for Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs and fights back against economy-killing and family-destroying environmental extremism. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @PTFAlaska

This article was originally published by RealClearEnergy and made available via RealClearWire.

To read more about domestic mining to escape reliance on China, click here.

To read more about clean energy and mining, click here.

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Government red tape strangling Canada’s economy

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From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

The cost of regulation from all three levels of government to Canadian businesses totalled $38.8 billion in 2020, for a total of 731 million hours—the equivalent of nearly 375,000 fulltime jobs.

One does not have to look too deeply into recent headlines to see that Canada’s economic conditions are declining and consequently eroding the prosperity and living standards of Canadians. Between 2000 and 2023, Canada’s per-person GDP (a key indicator of living standards) has lagged far behind its peer countries. Business investment is also lagging, as are unemployment rates across the country particularly compared to the United States.

There are many reasons for Canada’s dismal economic conditions—including layer upon layer of regulation. Indeed, Canada’s regulatory load is substantial and growing. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of regulations in Canada grew from about 66,000 to 72,000. These regulations restrict business activity, impose costs on firms and reduce economic productivity.

According to a recent “red tape” study published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the cost of regulation from all three levels of government to Canadian businesses totalled $38.8 billion in 2020, for a total of 731 million hours—the equivalent of nearly 375,000 fulltime jobs. If we apply a $16.65 per-hour cost (the federal minimum wage in Canada for 2023), $12.2 billion annually is lost to regulatory compliance.

Of course, Canada’s smallest businesses bear a disproportionately high burden of the cost, paying up to five times more for regulatory compliance per-employee than larger businesses. The smallest businesses pay $7,023 per employee annually to comply with government regulation while larger businesses pay a much lower $1,237 per employee for regulatory compliance.

And the Trudeau government has embarked on a massive regulatory spree over the last decade, enacting dozens of major regulatory initiatives including Bill C-69 (which tightens Canada’s environmental assessment process for major infrastructure projects), Bill C-48 (which restricts oil tankers off Canada’s west coast) and electric vehicle mandates (which require all new cars be electric by 2035). Other examples of government red tape include appliance standards to reduce energy consumption from household appliances, home efficiency standards to reduce household energy consumption, banning single-use plastic products, “net zero” nitrous oxide emissions regulation, “net zero” building emissions regulations, and clean electricity standards to drive net emissions of greenhouse gases in electricity production to “net zero” by 2035.

Clearly, Canada’s festooning pile of regulatory red tape is badly in need of weeding. And it can be done. For example, during a deregulatory effort in British Columbia, which appointed a minister of deregulation in 2001, there was a 37 per cent reduction in regulatory requirements in the province by 2004.

Rather with plowing ahead with an ever-growing pallet of regulations to be heaped upon Canadian businesses and citizens, government should reach for the garden shears and start reducing the most recent regulatory expansions (before they have time to do too much harm), and then scour the massive strangling forest of older regulations.

Whacking through the red tape would go a long way to help Canada’s economy out of its dismal state and back into competitive ranges with its fellow developed countries and our neighbours in the U.S.

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