Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy slammed climate-focused business policies and called the United States's climate agenda a "hoax" during an appearance at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday.
The conservative businessman and entrepreneur targeted environmental, social, and corporate governance business policies during a fair-side chat with Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA), claiming the ESG policies pose a "grave threat" to freedom.
“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."
He continued: "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 that if corporations wanted to use ESG policies then they should do so in the public square and discuss it through open debate.
ESG has been targeted by conservatives as an overreach by corporations trying to mix business with politics. The policies encourage businesses to focus on climate-centered investments, reduce carbon emissions, and encourage corporations to consider social issues such as more diverse hiring. Democrats have dismissed criticisms over ESG as a "waste of time."
The conservative's comments come as several other major Republican presidential hopefuls descend on the Iowa State Fair this weekend to tout their political ideas ahead of the election season's first Republican debate later this month. Ramaswamy has recently seen a boost in support for his campaign and even sailed into third place, replacing former Vice President Mike Pence.
Ramaswamy will take part in the debate on Aug. 23 alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and former Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC). Former President Donald Trump, Pence, and former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) have qualified for the debate but have not signed a loyalty pledge that is required. Pence has said he will sign the pledge.
The debate will occur in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and begins at 9 p.m. Eastern.