Why Tesla CEO Elon Musk Is Calling ESG a ‘Scam’


Elon Musk-led electrical automotive producer Tesla misplaced its place this month on the S&P 500 index devoted to firms excelling at environmental, social, and governance (ESG) points. Although there have been 34 different firms additionally faraway from the index following its annual reshuffle, the corporate stands out for its give attention to environmentally aware transportation.

In a blog post revealed Might 17, S&P Dow Jones Indices’ head of ESG indices for North America Margaret Dorn defined that, though Tesla’s ESG rating has remained comparatively “secure” year-on-year, it had been outflanked by world business friends. The index supplier cited a number of contributing elements to this variation, together with alleged incidents of racial discrimination at one of many firm’s factories that resulted within the California Division of Truthful Employment and Housing bringing a lawsuit in opposition to Tesla. The corporate mentioned in a February 2022 assertion that it strongly opposes all types of discrimination and harassment and referred to as the lawsuit “unfair and counterproductive, particularly as a result of the allegations give attention to occasions from years in the past.”

Musk, who’s the CEO of Tesla, tweeted his displeasure with the index reshuffle, claiming that “@SPGlobalRatings has misplaced their integrity [sic]”. The world’s richest man complained that oil big Exxon Mobil—which has been mired in controversy over claims of climate denialism—was listed within the prime 10 for ESG, whereas his electrical automotive firm was booted off the listing fully.

Right here, why Tesla misplaced its place on the S&P 500 ESG Index, and what it means for the corporate:

What’s the S&P 500 ESG Index and what sorts of firms are in it?

Launched in 2019, the S&P 500 ESG Index measures the inventory worth of among the largest firms by market capitalization listed within the U.S. which meet sure sustainability standards. It’s related in scope to the unique S&P 500 Index, however goals to assist buyers select between firms based mostly on their dedication to robust ESG objectives.

The constituents of the index are filtered for taking part in certain industries deemed antithetical to ESG objectives—similar to tobacco and controversial weapons manufacturing—and for his or her scores beneath the United Nations International Compact, a worldwide framework of company social accountability. Lastly, firms with the bottom scores relative to their friends are excluded from the index.

Learn extra: Thinking of Investing in a Green Fund? Many Don’t Live Up to Their Promises, a New Report Claims

The ESG Index is meant to supply a extra correct illustration of companies’ company accountability commitments than what an organization claims on its web site. “You possibly can’t simply take an organization’s mission assertion at face worth, it’s important to have a look at their practices throughout all these key dimensions,” Dorn advised Reuters.

Greater than 300 of the businesses included within the authentic S&P 500 Index characteristic on the ESG rating, together with Apple, Nvidia, JP Morgan Chase, and Exxon Mobil. In the course of the annual rebalance on Might 2, social media big Meta, pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson, and automotive maker Chevron have been all faraway from the listing, alongside Tesla. In the meantime, Musk’s acquisition Twitter goal, and oil refiner Phillips 66 have been added.

Why was Tesla eliminated?

In her Might 17 blog post, Dorn mentioned that Tesla fell off the rankings after transferring down the index relative to its world business friends. The explanations she cited for this drop included the automotive maker’s lack of low-carbon technique and codes of enterprise conduct, allegations regarding racial discrimination and poor working conditions at considered one of its factories, and the corporate’s dealing with of deaths and injuries linked to its driver-assistance programs.

Tesla didn’t reply to a request for remark in time for publication of this story. A spokesperson for the corporate beforehand advised the Guardian that Tesla goals to have as close to zero injuries as possible and to turn into the most secure manufacturing facility within the auto business worldwide.” Tesla and Musk have mentioned that the autos’ autopilot system makes its vehicles safer, according to the New York Times.

“Whereas Tesla could also be taking part in its half in taking fuel-powered vehicles off the street, it has fallen behind its friends when examined via a wider ESG lens,” Dorn said.

How did Elon Musk react?

Tesla’s CEO took to Twitter to air his frustration over the information that the corporate had slipped off the S&P 500 ESG index. “ESG is a rip-off. It has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors,” Musk wrote.

In a sequence of additional posts the tech titan shared memes mocking the inclusion of six oil companies on the index, and claiming {that a} good “ESG rating” quantities to a enterprise’s compliance with “the leftist agenda.”

The idea of ESG has confronted skepticism in sure sectors, largely for permitting firms and buyers to keep away from scrutiny for socially irresponsible actions or investments. Based on Bloomberg, the world’s largest ESG-focused exchange-traded fund has virtually invested 3.1% of its belongings within the oil and gasoline sector—the very business that’s accelerating the local weather disaster.

In its 2021 Impact Report, Tesla mentioned that “present ESG analysis methodologies” are “essentially flawed” as a result of it lacks give attention to the corporate’s “real-world impression” on society and the atmosphere.

Tesla board member Hiro Mizuno tweeted that “present rankings usually obese discount of adverse impacts whereas neglecting constructive impacts.”

What does this imply for Tesla?

Though not all buyers will agree on Tesla’s expulsion from the index, it may have an effect on the corporate’s inventory worth. Fen Munster, former know-how analyst who’s now a managing companion at venture-capital agency Loup Ventures, advised Bloomberg that it may pressure some buyers to promote their holdings, as a result of “funds benchmarked to the ESG index can’t maintain the inventory now.”

Including to investor issues, Musk has batted off claims in latest weeks that his proposed $44 billion acquisition of Twitter is distracting him from the electrical car maker. His financing plans for the deal have alarmed some Tesla investors, as Musk has taken out a $6.25 billion dollar mortgage backed by Tesla inventory. He has already sold greater than $8.5 billion of Tesla inventory to contribute to the sale.

Different buyers stay dedicated to Tesla. John Streur, president of Morgan Stanley unit Calvert Analysis and Administration, told Reuters that Tesla continues to be on his firm’s ESG indexes, even after the S&P index resolution, saying he believed that Tesla had embraced the required tenets of ESG.

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