Oklahoma Treasurer commends investment firms for leaving climate group


Oklahoma Treasurer Todd Russ, the man in charge of the list of banks banned for their policies that discriminate against the oil and gas industry, came out this week with congratulations to three banks and investment firms that dropped their membership in the Climate Action 100+.

In an announcement, Russ openly commended J.P. Morgan Chase, State Street and Blackrock for leaving the group that describes itself as an investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.

“This group required big investors like Blackrock to act like climate regulators,” said the Treasurer in his announcement.

“Climate Action 100+ asked its members to cause radical changes throughout the economy for the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The changes as pointed out by Russ included pressuring utilities to shut down their natural gas and coal plants and putting more pressure on energy companies to produce less oil and natural gas, moves he said would only hurt Oklahoma.

“Such radical consequences would damage Oklahoma’s jobs, economy, tax base, and pensions. To regain the trust necessary to manage the state’s money, firms like Blackrock should focus only on financial return, and depart from any other climate groups that require using client money to pursue ESG goals.”

BlackRock is one of the firms still on the state’s banned list, even though as OK Energy Today recently pointed out through SEC filings, has significant investments in some large oil and gas companies in Oklahoma.

The following is the remainder of the Treasurer’s special statement released on Tuesday:

As Oklahoma’s Treasurer, my duties include safeguarding our state’s financial health. State law directs me to make sure our states money is not used to subsidize firms boycotting key industries supporting our economy, our government, our pensions and ultimately, our families. Last week, J.P. Morgan Chase management reached out to me personally concerning the breaking news of their exit from Climate Action 100+. After a lengthy and open discussion, they stated no plans to exit the other climate groups and had no conflicting statements to offer them as continuing member in the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (“GFANZ”), the Net Zero Managers Initiative, and the Net-Zero Banking Alliance. This is confusing at best. The latest public statements by J.P. Morgan Chase were impressive and indicate a renewed interest in protecting the oil and gas interests of Oklahomans as well as America. Sadly, when pressed about their continued memberships with the other alliances, J.P. Morgan Chase could not offer any statements that indicate they are proposing different views or goals as remaining members with the other climate activist groups.

Over the last year, I have spoken with each bank or asset manager on our Restricted Financial Company List. In each conversation, I clearly stated the need to withdraw from groups where membership requires actions that violate our state law. These groups include Climate Action 100+, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (“GFANZ”), the Net Zero Managers Initiative, and the Net-Zero Banking Alliance.

Membership in a group like the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) requires banks to pressure their customers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions until those companies meet rigid and extreme targets for net zero emissions. For example, banks like J.P. Morgan Chase have made recent statements contrary to the goals and mandates of Climate Action 100+. However, they—J.P. Morgan Chase in addition to the other banks and money managers on the restricted list—agreed to “[t]ransition the operational and attributable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their lending and investment portfolios to align with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner.”[3] J.P. Morgan Chase and other NZBA members followed this commitment with targets for specific industries.[4] Clearly, the only way to meet these targets is to either de-bank companies unaligned with net zero, or use the threat of redirecting investing to force companies to change. Both of these actions violate our boycott laws.

Reaching net zero requires companies to make dramatic and unprofitable changes that will cost somewhere between $125 trillion and $275[5] trillion globally. As a group of agriculture commissioners[6] recently noted, reaching net zero in agriculture requires Americans to cut their red meat consumption by 50%, stop using fertilizer, and electrify farm equipment. Net zero in electricity generation means cutting fossil-fuel based generation from 61% to 2%,[7] and reducing total electricity generation while the world population doubles.[8]

Forcing companies to align with net zero would devastate not just Oklahoma’s economy and tax base but, becomes a national security issue for the entire country and a world health issue for the entire universe.[9] Financial institutions managing state money have no business asking companies to boycott industries providing Oklahoma and America our jobs, supporting our economy, creating national security and funding state finances, all things to which I am entrusted with protecting.

The prerequisite for change is acknowledging change needs to occur in the first place. “Don’t just tell me, show me” is my new moto. Abandoning Climate Action 100+ shows me the largest financial institutions recognize it is wrong to use their market share to pressure companies to meet ESG goals like net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Leaving the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative and the Net Zero Banking Alliance must be next in their action sequence to tell me they really mean what they say.

Financial institutions that want to do business with Oklahoma need to show they have only one goal: Making Money for our State and Pensioners.