Texas bans Barclays from local govt debt business over ESG concerns By Reuters

Texas bans Barclays from local govt debt business over ESG concerns By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker cleans a Barclays logo outside a bank branch in the financial district of London, Britain July 8, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

By Isla Binnie

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday said Barclays bank would not be permitted to underwrite municipal bonds after failing to respond to questions from state authorities about its pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Republican officials have criticised environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and have moved to limit the role of other banks in the local government debt market over such concerns.

A Barclays spokesman declined to comment.

Paxton’s office in a statement said it had identified Barclays as being a member or affiliate of a net zero alliance, a type of trade group aimed at reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions that began gaining traction around a United Nations conference in Scotland in 2021.

“This raised concerns that Barclays’ activities may require it be classified as a ‘fossil fuel boycotter’ under Texas law,” the statement said.

“When asked for more information concerning its ESG commitments, Barclays elected not to respond to the questions and acknowledged that by doing so it would likely forfeit its ability to contract with Texas governmental entities,” the statement continued.

A Texas finance chief keeps a list of financial firms deemed to boycott energy companies, and the state has been a leader in a conservative challenge against a Biden administration rule allowing socially conscious investment of employee retirement plans.

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