Trump says banks have ‘gone woke’ and should be ‘penalised very severely’

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Former President Donald Trump said that banks have "gone woke" and should be "penalised very severely for it" during a recent speech at the right-wing Hispanic Leadership Conference in Miami.

Mr Trump was the keynote speaker at the Florida event on Wednesday. The event was organised by the America First Police Institute.

During the speech, the former president railed against banks he claimed have not done enough to support "the Hispanic community."

"The big banks like Chase and like Bank of America have done much less for the Hispanic community than they should," he said. "They've gone woke and they should be penalised very severely for it, the banks have let the community down, let the country down."

Mr Trump did not give examples of how the banks have "gone woke" before or after his statement at the conference, nor did he elaborate on how exactly the banks have underserved Hispanic Americans.

The former president isn't the first Republican to complain about "woke banks.” Republican officials in West Virginia have made similar claims and have taken action against the institutions.

Fox Business reports that Republicans in West Virginia moved to bar banking institutions including BlackRock, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan from entering into banking contracts with the state treasurer's office or any state agency over what they deem as harmful policies.

The policies that have rankled Republicans in West Virginia are commitments by major US banks to reach net-zero financed emissions by 2050. While these targets do not explicitly prevent banks from funding fossil fuel expansions, they would result in a reduction to financed emissions in the oil and gas sector by 26 per cent and power sectors by 60 per cent, according to an analysis by environmental activist organisation The Sierra Club.

West Virginia collected $769m in severance taxes from the fossil fuel industry in the last fiscal year, accounting for 13 per cent of the state’s general revenue funds generated, according to the Weirton Daily Times.

The state's treasurer, Riley Moore, told Fox Business that the state would not stand for the banks' decision to commit to fossil-fuel reduction.

“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction, we’re not going to subsidize that,” he said. “They have weaponized our tax dollars against the very people and industry that have generated them to begin with. That is why we’re pushing back against this ESG movement.”

ESG references environmental, social, and governance investing, which are policies intended to encourage companies to act ethically and responsibly with their investments.

Governor Ron DeSantis called ESG policies a "woke ideological agenda" in a statement released just two months before Hurricane Ian destroyed portions of the state, becoming what meteorologists say is the worst storm Florida has faced since 1935.

While the climate crisis does not increase the number of hurricanes that might occur in a year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that the warming of ocean waters does make the storms more powerful and contributes to heavier rainfalls, which then results in worse flooding.

Mr DeSantis has proposed that the state's Board of Administration fund managers discount any data regarding ESG policies when determining how to invest Florida's pension money.