June 27, 2023

Sustainable Investment Caucus Hosts Roundtable Discussion with IL State Treasurer, Maryland Comptroller, US SIF

Washington, D.C. — Last week, U.S. Congressmen Juan Vargas (CA-52) and Sean Casten (IL-06) co-chairs of the Congressional Sustainable Investment Caucus, hosted a roundtable discussion for Members of Congress featuring Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs, Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman, and US SIF Managing Director Bryan McGannon.

During the discussion, Members heard from Treasurer Frerichs, Comptroller Lierman, and Mr. McGannon about how they view Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks, why ESG risks are financially material, and why investors are demanding improved disclosures on these risks. Members also had the opportunity to question the witnesses on how federal legislators should be thinking about the topic.

“The data is clear: Investors are demanding sustainable investment options. They realize that the physical and transitional risks of climate change pose a threat to the financial system, how a company treats its employees is correlated to its long-term success, and that capital is being reallocated to companies that are adequately managing these risks. However, misinformation by dark money political organizations have influenced Republican-led states to consider legislation that restricts the free-market and limits the consideration of ESG risks.” said Reps. Vargas and Casten. “It’s essential that we bring together Members of Congress and experts to progress past the distortion of facts and have robust, open-minded discussions about sustainable investing. We thank Comptroller Lierman, Treasurer Frerichs, and Mr. McGannon for joining us and sharing their expertise.”

“Any responsible fiduciary must consider the risks of potential investments before deciding where to invest the hard-earned dollars of our beneficiaries,” said Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman. “The physical risks associated with climate change and the costs of human capital management are just some of the many risks facing companies today. The acceleration of climate change means industries as diverse as insurance and real estate and energy face challenges that we must account for. The expansion of renewable technologies means that our economy is undergoing a major transition, similar to the Industrial Revolution. Advancing sustainable investment strategies that reflect this changing economy represents the only responsible way to properly handle the trust the public has placed in us.”

“Telling investors not to consider all of the risk factors is anti-free market and just plain silly,” Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said. “Legislative proposals that restrict information gathering in the decision-making process are un-American and will hurt taxpayers, workers, and pensioners.”

​​“The Congressional Sustainable Investment Caucus is providing a critical platform to educate members with objective information about the investment process and the use of ESG data,” said US SIF Managing Director Bryan McGannon. “Congress needs to understand that access to reliable, complete and comparable data is essential to efficient markets and the identification risks and opportunities. We applaud the leadership of Representatives Vargas and Casten and are pleased to be a partner of the Caucus.”

The Sustainable Investment Caucus plans to host future briefings to bring together Members of Congress with experts to better understand sustainable investing and inform policy-making that provides investor protections and transparency of information to market participants.