When it comes to ESG in the United States, among the most dramatic developments is an ideological battle unfolding at the state level, pitting liberal-leaning state governments that have embraced ESG-focused investing against conservative-led states that would seek to exclude it.
To date, the general consensus had been that the U.S. is lagging on its ESG focus, particularly in contrast to the EU and U.K. where investor, political and societal support has generally been strong. U.S. federal agencies have been slower to propose rules in this area than their European counterparts. As a result, much of the activity on the ESG front remains the subject of private ordering, where companies are offering disclosure and making commitments in response to investor and stakeholder demands rather than regulatory requirements.
But over the past year, the picture has shifted. States have stepped up their lawmaking, defining the future of the ESG-related regulatory environment with widely divergent approaches.