Dozen state GOP agriculture commissioners launch probe of US banks over ESG investing: 'It must be stopped' (2024)

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FIRST ON FOX: A coalition of 12 Republican state agriculture commissioners are taking aim at six large U.S. banks over their net-zero ambitions, opening a new front in the pushback against woke investing, a fight that has primarily been spearheaded by state attorneys general and financial officers.

The top state officials penned a letter Monday morning to top executives of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, taking issue in particular with their collective membership in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). They warned that the banks' involvement in the global eco alliance may impact food availability, lead to price increases, limit credit access for farmers, and have broad negative economic consequences.

"American agriculture is sending a clear signal: we will not bend the knee to the failed, left-wing climate agenda of the United Nations that seeks to cripple one of our country’s most critical industries," Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper told FOX Business.

"Now more than ever, banks that do business with America should be unquestionably supporting American industries — and that starts with the one that puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and shelter over our heads," Harper continued. "The UN’s Net-Zero Banking Alliance would be the equivalent of a run on the bank for our nation’s agriculture industry and pose a serious threat to our national security — and it must be stopped."

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Dozen state GOP agriculture commissioners launch probe of US banks over ESG investing: 'It must be stopped' (2)

A combination file photo shows Wells Fargo, Citigbank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs from Reuters archive. (Reuters / Reuters Photos)

According to the United Nations, which organized the formation of the NZBA, the alliance is a global group of financial institutions "committed to financing ambitious climate action" to transition the economy to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The NZBA's framework encourages its member banks to additionally "design, set, and achieve" science-based net zero targets for 2030 or sooner.

The alliance issued a progress report during last month's U.N. climate summit in Dubai, highlighting how two-thirds of its growing membership pool had made aggressive green energy commitments. The report further noted that member banks are increasingly targeting the power sector; fossil fuel industry; iron, steel and cement manufacturing; and real estate.

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However, in their letter Monday, the state agriculture commissioners warned that the banks' net-zero commitments made under the NZBA's framework may have severe consequences for American farmers such as cutting beef and livestock consumption, forcing a switch to "inefficient electric farm equipment," and moving away from the nitrogen fertilizer "necessary for American agriculture to thrive."

"Achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture requires a complete overhaul of on-farm infrastructure — one of the goals of the NZBA," the letter stated. "This would have a catastrophic impact on our farmers. Proposed net-zero roadmaps describe dramatic, impractical, and costly changes to American farming and ranching operations such as switching to electric machinery and equipment; installing on-site solar panels and wind turbines; moving to organic fertilizer; altering rice-field irrigation systems; and slashing U.S. ruminant meat consumption in half, costing millions of livestock jobs."

Dozen state GOP agriculture commissioners launch probe of US banks over ESG investing: 'It must be stopped' (3)

Delegates applaud during a plenary session on day thirteen of the U.N. COP28 Climate Conference on December 13, 2023, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Net-Zero Banking Alliance issued a status update during the summit. (Fadel Dawod/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"To make matters worse, these changes will increase food costs and decrease food production at a time when global food demand is expected to rise dramatically," it continued. "This is compounded by the fact that, the average American has been struggling to keep up with inflation during the tenure of the Biden Administration. The reality could be much worse. These effects will hit the poor the hardest."

Harper and the other officials added in the letter that the six banks' net-zero ambitions could "permanently damage American agriculture and endanger our country’s food security."

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"American farmers should not be forced to put our food supply at risk," they concluded.

Dozen state GOP agriculture commissioners launch probe of US banks over ESG investing: 'It must be stopped' (4)

The financial sector's net-zero ambitions, part of the broader environmental, social and governance (ESG) movement, could harm farmers, threaten America's food supply and lead to higher consumer prices. (iStock / iStock)

The agriculture officials, who have broad authority to initiate investigations and bring enforcement actions, requested information from the banks about their involvement in NZBA and their net-zero goals.

In addition to Georgia, officials from Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia also signed the letter.

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"Farmers and ranchers are the foundation of our economy and international climate cartels like the NZBA pose nothing less than an existential threat to their future," said Will Hild, the executive director of watchdog group Consumers' Research. "By forcing ESG, Brian Moynihan and his cohort have driven the cost of doing business for small family farmers and independent ranchers to astronomical heights."

"The Ag officials and Commissioners hit the nail on the head in their letter: should their misguided climate extremism continue unabated, these megabanks will put our entire food supply in serious jeopardy," he added. "I applaud the states for their action, and I look forward to working with them to defend American consumers from this corporate malfeasance."

Dozen state GOP agriculture commissioners launch probe of US banks over ESG investing: 'It must be stopped' (2024)
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