The ESG Debate Emerges from the Soil of Climate Denial

67 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2021 Last revised: 19 Jan 2022

See all articles by Lawrence J. Trautman

Lawrence J. Trautman

Prairie View A&M University - College of Business

Neal Newman

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: October 10, 2021


It has been almost six decades since Rachel Carson’s ominous warning of pending environmental disaster. During 2019 the United Nations requested urgent action from world leaders, given that “just over a decade is all that remains to stop irreversible damage from climate change.” With every passing year, damage resulting from destructive climate change causes increased pain, suffering, death and massive property loss. During 2020 and 2021 alone, severe weather events have included: destructive fires in California; record breaking freeze, power outage, and threat to the electrical grid in Texas; continuation of disruptive drought in U.S. Western states; and record-breaking high temperatures in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Global recognition of threats posed by carbon emissions appears universal. For several years, U.S. intelligence agencies have considered climate change to be a risk to national security. During April 2021, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described climate change as an “existential threat to national security.” As one of the first actions taken by the incoming Administration, president Biden observed, “The United States and the world face a profound climate crisis. We have a narrow moment to pursue action at home and abroad in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of that crisis and to seize the opportunity that tackling climate change presents.” We believe this paper contributes to the corporate governance discussion and understanding of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues.

Keywords: BlackRock, carbon dioxide emissions, climate change, corporate governance, diversity, economic inequality, Environmental, ESG, externality, EXXON, finance, foreign policy, institutional investment, national security, proxy fight, regulation, risk, SEC, securities, social, sustainability, United Nati

Suggested Citation

Trautman, Lawrence J. and Newman, Neal, The ESG Debate Emerges from the Soil of Climate Denial (October 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence J. Trautman (Contact Author)

Prairie View A&M University - College of Business ( email )

Prairie View, TX
United States

Neal Newman

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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