Unilever CEO Alan Jope declared his company would “not back down” on Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues during a Tuesday forum at the Clinton Global Initiative.
“In 1939, George Orwell wrote that we have sunk to such depths that stating the obvious is the first responsibility of every person and he was talking about a book on power written by Bertrand Russell,” Jope told former President Bill Clinton, according to video posted to Twitter by Will Hild of Consumers First. “But it applies to today, because stating the obvious, that we have an emergency, we have a climate emergency, is becoming an unpopular thing to do.”
“This anti-sustainability backlash, this anti-woke backlash is incredibly dangerous for the world,” Jope continued. “And the first thing Unilever will do is we will not back down on this agenda despite these populist accusations.”
Jope’s remarks came as part of a panel that also included Clinton, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and Sustainable Energy for All CEO Damilola Ogunbiyi. BlackRock reportedly uses its investments to push companies to adopt ESG, with Fink calling for changes to the charters of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to support ESG.
The ESG framework pushes companies to prioritize social and environmental factors into their investment considerations instead of “simply considering the potential profitability,” according to Investopedia. Critics of ESG and other “woke” agenda items have pointed to crises in Ghana, where blackouts took place, and Sri Lanka, which suffered an agricultural crisis, as reasons to oppose the agenda.
“At the moment, we’re consistently reporting financial metrics around the world, but we’re at great danger right now of fragmenting the reporting of non-financial metrics,” Jope said, calling for mandatory reporting on ESG metrics, according to a video posted on Twitter.
During the panel, Clinton and Fink labeled ESG opponents as “climate change deniers,” Hild posted.
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