DFPI Embraces ESG Investing But Has It Overlooked An "Inconvenient Truth"?

In honor of Earth Day, the California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation is promoting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing on its website: "Embracing Sustainable Investment Practices with ESG Investing".  According to the DFPI, 

The ESG investment strategy has proven to be not only better for the environment and our communities but has seen remarkable growth in return over the long-term.  It has also proven more resilient during market contractions than other stocks on the S&P 500 index. 

Nonetheless, there are those who have reached the opposite conclusion.  For example, University of Colorado Finance Professor Sanjai Bhagat has observed:

The conclusion to be drawn from this evidence seems pretty clear: funds investing in companies that publicly embrace ESG sacrifice financial returns without gaining much, if anything, in terms of actually furthering ESG interests.

An Inconvenient Truth About ESG Investing, Harvard Business Review (March 31, 2022).  

Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Mike Edleson and Andy Puzder, the former chief risk officer of the University of Chicago’s endowment and the former chief economist of Nasdaq and the NASD wrote:

The results are compelling. The market was down overall, by 1.8% for the S&P 500 and 3.2% for the Russell 1000. ESG funds performed worse, with most losing 2.5% to 6.3%. A simple index composed of only neutral companies gained 2.9%, significantly outperforming both broad-market and ESG indexes in up and down markets. 

Is ESG Profitable? The Numbers Don’t Lie, The Wall Street Journal. (March 10, 2023).

The point is that the merits of ESG investing are the subject of serious debate.  Therefore, it is materially misleading for the DFPI to claim that its benefits and results are "proven".  One might expect a governmental agency with a key mission of investor protection would be more careful in its pronouncements about investment strategies.