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This week in responsible investing, UAF held a press call featuring Houston Controller Chris Hollins, a new report demonstrating the financial harm Texas’ anti-ESG laws are doing to the state, and new polling showing how Texans don’t even want these laws. That, and more, below:

UAF held a press call with Houston Controller Chris Hollins featuring new polling and analysis of Texas’ harmful anti-ESG policies.

From UAF’s media advisory: Most recently, Texas anti-ESG laws SB13 and SB19 have cost the state nearly $700 million in lost economic activity, according to new research from the Texas Association of Business and economic consulting firm TXP. Since the laws went into effect in 2021, Texas public entities have been forced to divest from financial institutions that practice responsible investing, resulting in a loss of over 3,000 full-time, permanent jobs.  

During the press call, Collins said Texas anti-ESG laws are putting cities like Houston at jeopardy.

From UAF’s ICYMI: On the impacts of SB13 and SB19 on the municipal level, Houston Controller Chris Hollins said: “I have a job I take very seriously, being the taxpayer watchdog for the fourth largest city in the country. A handful of politicians in Austin love sending mandates to local officials on how we should do our jobs. Our financial standing has been put in jeopardy by a few people at the state capitol. But this issue impacts more than just the banks – it impacts real people, like retirees relying on a pension fund, and it hurts our ability to get projects funded at the lowest cost.”

The business community is calling for more ESG investing, despite extremist politicians’ work.

From UAF’s round up: In the face of volatile pay-for-play schemes between Big Oil and out of touch politicians, new bans on responsible investing, and fossil fuel mandates, the business community is doubling down on responsible investing. Financial managers are growing their investments in sustainable funds while corporate executives are incentivizing climate-friendly business practices and voluntarily establishing ambitious sustainability goals. Their message is clear: ESG is here to stay. Why? Because evidence shows sustainable funds have comparable, if not better, financial returns to traditional funds with less downside risk, with nearly 80% of impact investors reporting that their financial performance meets or exceeds their targets.

A group of asset and pension members promised to back Climate Action 100+, the coalition which advocates for curbing carbon emissions.

From ESG Dive: The group advised investors to take further action to address systematic risks associated with climate change and said such action will require cooperation among global leaders, governments, corporations and investors. The signatories also said climate risk is an investment risk and, hence, addressing such risks is a “fiduciary imperative” all investors should abide by. The statement concluded that collaboration was key in staying up to date with regulation requirements and prompted more efficient and effective results.

The nation’s largest public pension fund expressed concerns over Exxon’s lawsuit against its own shareholders.

From UAF’s ICYMI: In a memo ahead of the vote, CalPERS leadership wrote that “Shareholder rights are a cornerstone of CalPERS’ approach to corporate governance.” They go on to say: “If ExxonMobil succeeds in silencing voices and upending the rules of shareholder democracy, what other subjects will the leaders of any company make off limits? Worker safety? Excessive executive compensation?”

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