ESG has for some time now been a hot button issue for companies. More recently, an anti-ESG backlash has emerged, further complicating the ESG environment for companies and sometimes putting them in a “damned-if-you-do-and damned-if-you-don’t” dilemma. How are companies to navigate these complicated conditions? In a May 23, 2023 post on the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance entitled “Navigating the Current ESG Landscape: Recommendations for the Board and Management” (here), veteran and respected corporate attorney Martin Lipton of the Wachtell, Lipton law firm provides guidance for companies as they navigate these difficult circumstances and describes the principles companies should follow in trying to make their way on these issues.Continue Reading Navigating the Challenging ESG Landscape
ESG is of course one of the current hot button topics, in the corporate, legal, and financial world. One of the many issues surrounding ESG is the question of how ESG initiatives fit with traditional notions surrounding corporate purposes. In the following guest post, Greg Markel, Giovanna Ferrari, and Sarah Fedner of the Seyfarth Shaw law firm take a comprehensive look at the ways in which ESG fits within the basic principles of corporate governance and corporate purpose . I would like to thank the authors for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics to the readers of this blog. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is the authors’ article.Continue Reading Guest Post: ESG and Corporate Purpose: Their Current Status and How They Relate
Many readers may have seen that earlier this week, President Biden made his first use of his Presidential veto powers to block a Congressional measure that would have reinstated Trump-era Labor Department ban on retirement plans considering factors such as climate change, social impacts or pending lawsuits when making investment choices. However, readers may not have seen that last week, in apparent anticipation of the Presidential veto, a group of governors of 19 states announced that they had formed an alliance, led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, to “push back against President Biden’s environmental, social, and corporate governance agenda that is destabilizing the American economy and the global financial system.”
The 19 state governors issued a joint statement that further explained their reasoning for forming the alliance. The March 16, 2023, press release from Governor DeSantis’s office about the alliance can be found here. The March 16, 2023, joint statement of the governors can be found here. A March 21, 2023 memo from the Cadwalader law firm about the governors’ alliance can be found here. The details of the Department of Labor guidelines, the Congressional measure, and President Biden’s veto are discussed in a March 20, 2023 post on The Nickel Blog, here.Continue Reading Governors Form Alliance to Fight ESG
In a recent post, I discussed the lawsuit filed in a UK court by the environmental advocacy group ClientEarth against the board of Shell. In the following guest post, Francis Kean, Partner in Financial Lines Team at McGill and Partners, dives deeper into the legal context of the lawsuit and its insurance implications. I would like to thank Francis for allowing me to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors of topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Francis’s article.Continue Reading Guest Post: Client Earth Claim Against the Board of Shell: A Sign of Things to Come in the UK?
In recent posts on this site (for example, here), I have discussed the developing ESG-related litigation phenomenon in which claimants file suits not against ESG laggards bur rather against companies that have taken the initiative on ESG-related matters. However, the existence of this trend, while noteworthy, does not negate the possibilities for litigation involving the ESG laggards, as well. There are in fact noteworthy instances of this latter type of litigation, much of it in Europe, as is well-detailed in a December 2022 white paper from the Jones Day law firm entitled “ESG – Climate Change and Related Litigation Takes Center State in Europe” (here). The white paper not only catalogs recent European ESG-related litigation but also identifies regulatory developments and other trends that could contribute to further litigation in the future.
Continue Reading Lessons from Climate Change-Related Litigation in Europe
On December 1, 2022, in a press release full of statements critical of the investment firm BlackRock and its CEO, Larry Fink, Jimmy Patronis, the Chief Financial Officer of Florida, announced that the Florida Treasury would begin divesting $2 billion of Florida state assets currently under management by BlackRock. The statement makes it clear that the Florida official is making the move because of his opposition to the investment firm’s activist positions, especially with respect to ESG issues. This development is the latest step in the process of the increasing politicization of ESG , a pattern that puts companies into the cross-fire as they contend with competing ESG expectations. The Florida CFO’s press December 1, 2022 press release can be found here.
Continue Reading Florida’s Politicians: Don’t Say ESG
As readers of this blog well know, ESG is one of the hot topics in the investment and financial world these days. ESG is also very much on the mind of regulators as well, as two recent developments show. First, on November 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor issued updated rules expressly allowing plan fiduciaries to consider ESG factors when they select retirement fund investments and exercise shareholder rights, such as proxy voting. Second, the SEC, acting through its Division of Enforcement’s Climate and ESG Task Force, brought a settled enforcement action against Goldman Sachs Asset Management for policies and procedures shortcomings at funds marketed as ESG investments. These developments underscore the challenges companies, investment funds, and others face as they navigate the complex ESG landscape.
Continue Reading Regulators’ Take On ESG Investing
This past summer, the German legislature passed the Supply Chain Act, in order to require German businesses to comply with due diligence obligations to improve compliance with human rights and material standards within supply chains. In the following guest post, Frank Hülsberg, a Chartered Accountant and Tax Advisor in Düsseldorf, Partner Advisory and Member of the Executive Board at Grant Thornton AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft in Germany, and Burkhard Fassbach, a Senior Manager in the Governance, Risk, Compliance & Technology department at Grant Thornton in Frankfurt, review the Act’s requirements and consider its implications. I would like to thank Frank and Burkhard for allowing me to publish this article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Frank and Burkhard’s article.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Focus on ESG: The German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act