(The Hill) – GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy railed against climate-conscious business policy at an Iowa State Fair appearance Saturday.
In an fireside chat with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Ramaswamy said that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) business policies are among the “grave threats to liberty,” and said “the climate change agenda” is a “hoax.”
“They’re using our money … to implement social and environmental agendas through the backdoor. Through corporate America,” Ramaswamy said. “Using your retirement funds and your investment accounts to vote for racial equity audits or Scope 3 emissions caps that you didn’t know they were using your money to do, and that Congress would have never passed through the front door.”
ESG has become a political punching bag for conservatives, who view it as corporations overreaching into the political space. The policies increase diverse hiring, reduce carbon emissions and manage how they invest their money with climate in mind.
“This is actually one of the grave threats to liberty today. Wherever you stand on climate change — I think most of the climate change agenda is, I’m just going to say it, is a hoax,” Ramaswamy said. “I’m going to call that for what it is.”
The entrepreneur also claimed ESG is comparable to the “back-rooms deals” of Old World Europe, and called for more public debate on the topic.
“Wherever you stand on that, we should settle that through free space and open debate in the public square in a constitutional republic,” he said. “That’s the way we do things, post-1776, on this side of the Atlantic.”
Conservatives’ crusade against ESG has drawn ire from Democrats, who have called many of the follies a waste of time. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) called a House hearing over the issue the “stupidest hearing I’ve ever been to.”
Ramaswamy’s campaign has gained steam in recent months, rising from an unknown political figure to third in national polling averages — passing former Vice President Mike Pence last month. A biotech entrepreneur from Ohio, Ramaswamy has garnered about 7% support in recent polls.