NPR report defends ESG, says Republicans are ‘trying to score political points’

By | September 13, 2022

NPR published a report Monday in their climate section that accused Republicans of opposing environmental, social, governance policies (ESG) in order to “score political points.”

The article, titled “How ESG investing got tangled up in America’s culture wars,” was written by Michael Copley a “Climate and Corporations Correspondent.” 

In the article, Copley noted that Republicans are taking steps to curb ESG investing. 

“A growing number of Republican politicians are moving to penalize Wall Street investors who consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when they decide where to put clients’ money,” he wrote.


Copley referred to actions taken by elected officials in Florida, Texas, and West Virginia to deter companies from pursuing policies that use retirees’ pension plans in order to advance preferred social policies. 

“Anti-ESG Republicans say big financial firms are abusing their power to advance a liberal agenda on issues like diversity, social justice and, especially, climate change,” he wrote, without further detailing their argument. 

“Many experts disagree, saying Republicans are distorting the goals and strategies of ESG investing,” he continued, which he described as “a set of considerations that investors are using to try to understand risks and opportunities that aren’t accounted for in traditional financial models.”

Copley downplayed the extent to which ESG policies have cut off funds to fossil fuel, writing, “Are ESG investors boycotting fossil fuels? It doesn’t look that way.” 


To back up his claim, he cited a report posted on the website of Rainforest Action Network, a climate change activist organization.

However, his claim that ESG investors are not boycotting fossil fuels is false. In 2019, Goldman Sachs pledged not to directly finance any new or existing coal projects anywhere in the world, and also ruled out funding oil projects in the Atlantic. Other financial institutions enacted similar policies, and BlackRock pledged to remove coal companies from its portfolio. 

As noted by the Wall Street Journal editorial board in July, “some West Virginia coal producers say they can’t obtain financing to increase output despite record global demand.”

Copley blamed Republicans as one reason for “ESG becoming a political fight now,” writing, “Republicans are trying to score political points ahead of elections.”

Many investors, such as Kyle Bass, contend that ESG is rushing the world’s transition away from fossil fuels and that it has caused and will continue to cause energy shortages, disproportionately affecting the world’s poor. 

Despite being publicly funded and this article being a part of its news reporting, NPR does not appear to be neutral. Upon hiring Copley in July, NPR published a statement to staff that said some companies “are speeding us toward harm” on climate change.

“We created this position to help our audience understand the role corporations are playing in the changing climate: how some are helping us avoid the worst case climate scenarios, and how others are speeding us toward harm,” NPR’s editors wrote.