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Could there be Trouble Ahead for ESG?

Shane Wenzel

Alberta has a long history of challenges to its economy over the years, including shocks in the form of resource price instability, market access constraints and federal energy policies. However, the good news this year is that our province has been singled out as the leader in economic recovery in Canada. Though this could be short-lived with the ever-threatening drive to ‘ESG utopia’ which will undoubtedly move us backwards.

Modern society is admittedly impossible without mass scale production of manmade materials. The materials ranked highest on the scale of necessity are concrete, steel, plastics and ammonia. The necessity of cement and steel speak for itself. But, without ammonia, which deserves the top position as the most important material to feed the world, we could not ensure the survival of billions of people. Farmers are protesting. The key problem is none of these components are easily replaceable.

Plastic alone is produced at nearly 400 million tons annually with thousands of uses, but in particular is indispensable in health care and in our hospitals. Regardless of health care always being one of the top (if not the top) concerns of the mass population, the elimination of plastics still appears to be one of the key targets of our governments.

Single-use plastics such as straws, eating utensils, food containers and plastic bags is one of their first targets. Advocates have gone so far to suggest you could take your own non-plastic cutlery to the food courts along with your non-plastic food containers should you have the need to eat while shopping. And, not to be overlooked is Calgary City Council musing the idea of setting the price of retail products such as paper bags and reusable bags to their list of council duties. That should delight private business owners!

This could be merely my personal opinion but based on the strange illogical actions of many western democratic leaders, it appears they have little concept of the damage their policies are doing to their own people based on a natural or manufactured crises. I won’t suggest utter incompetence at the moment.

While companies scramble to meet all the ESG requirements which is assured to put many of them out of business, some start-up asset management companies citing ‘short-sighted political agendas’ that have caused companies to underinvest in commodities have launched. They are promoting fossil fuel investment to push back against the rules mandating ESG investment. Some major Wall Street banks such as Morgan Stanley and Bank of America concerned about the legal risks of participation have also threatened to leave Mark Carney’s UN climate alliance. Energy companies have been underinvesting due to the mandates leading to shortages and more inflation. The anti-ESG bandwagon is growing!

People are starting to lose trust in public institutions and governments. There is a growing sense that their families will not be better off in the future. They feel betrayed and that the world of their parents no longer exists.

Filling up a tank of gas is agonizing; inflation is at a 40-year high and it is tough to not feel like you are growing older in a country you no longer recognize!