Amidst four different but intertwined crises –the COVID-19 pandemic, the global economic crisis and high unemployment rates, the increasing racial tensions, and the climate crisis –the next government of the United States faces unprecedented challenges. In addition, compared to some of its peers, the U.S. currently does not hold a leadership position in terms of sustainability. Consequently, the heralded policy change towards more ambitious sustainability commitments leaves ample room for improvement, not only vis-à-vis the previous administration, but also in the context of long-term sustainable development.
The past four years under President Trump’s leadership have again demonstrated that whoever resides in the White House has a significant impact on national and international efforts to achieve sustainable development. The outcome of this election and the governance of the next administration could substantially shape the future development of all sustainability pillars of the country’s ESG performance.
ISS ESG Country Rating data suggests that a turn towards more climate-and environmentally-friendly policies -as promoted by the President-elect Joe Biden in his plan “Joe’s Vision”–could have a positive impact on the country’s overall rating grade and sustainability performance. However, projections of the ISS ESG Country Rating data also suggest that even considerable advancements in climate and environmental policy alone are not sufficient to significantly improve the United States’ overall ESG Rating. To reach a truly sound pathway to sustainable development, steady and incremental political change is also necessary in both the Social and Governance pillars.