Sep 02, 2021 Editorial
Kaieteur News – Though many Guyanese are not into socially conscious investing activity, they have to start doing so. For we have Exxon here, and its already lengthy and dangerous record with gas flaring into the environment. We all complain about how hot it is, and that it was never like this before. It can be traced to what Exxon and other companies with their mindset dismiss as hoax. That would be climate change, its perils, and urgencies.
Unlike the lions, rhinos, and other endangered species, over which action was long delayed, humans (in general) and Guyanese (in particular) had better come to their senses quicker than what it took to start doing something about saving endangered life in the animal kingdom, as well as the wider environment around, below, and above us. If we don’t, we run the risk of becoming an endangered species ourselves.
This is why the visions, attitudes, and actions of the people behind Engine 1 should mean something to us, with its Transform
500 ETF (exchange traded fund), currently before the Securities and Exchange Commission for review and approval to begin trading. The leaders of Engine 1 are demonstrating that they are serious and mean business. Things have to change at Exxon and other corporate places. For their Transform 500 ETF is not just about energy (oil and coal), but “financial services, healthcare technologies, utilities, among others.” As Engine 1’s prospectus stated, “it seeks to encourage transformational change.” We need that here in leadership ranks.
It is an eye opener, could be a game changer. For, as we see this ETF, it would be about analysing how corporations invest, and the projects they prioritise. As examples, we think of the Wall Street companies that arrange and underwrite their financing (are they socially conscious and responsible?); in healthcare, what are businesses offering in their products that could be harmful to people (tobacco, liquor, and medicinal standards); and utilities and how they power plants and grids (fossil fuels and more). The range of interests and possibilities for “socially conscious investing” and the changes that are wrought from that could be groundbreaking in the quality of life with which ordinary citizens live.
Corporate leaders are put on notice. There are sure to be imitators of Engine 1 upping the pressure on boards and senior executives to think twice and come up with the right blend of products and remedial programmes that improve the welfare of society and the planet on which we live. There is a lesson, many such lessons, for our own leaders in Guyana.
The first lesson for national political leaders is that they, too, must be socially conscious, meaning, that they must be as expansive as possible in their visions, as inclusive as they can be, and squeeze those who come to this modern day El Dorado to explore and profit. Our leaders must be wise enough and committed (honestly) enough to push Exxon to do more for the environment, to give back more to Guyana. They must never let up. And if they don’t do it, then we will not ease up. The excesses of Exxon in Guyana’s environment must be broadcast before the world, shared with Engine 1 to give it ammunition for intensifying the heat, through their new 25 percent presence on the company’s board.
Exxon is being forced to come clean, by being socially conscious; other companies are being warned through the proposed Transform 500 ETF. Guyanese leaders must be about more than the socially conscious. All of the top PPP, PNC, and APNU+AFC leaders must also be about what is politically conscious (not for elections only), what is racially conscious (not for their own solely), and what is economically conscious (not for themselves merely). Our leaders must not know no, nor take no for an answer from Exxon and its kind.
Engine 1 showed our leaders that it can be done and how to make a start doing so. The leaders of Engine 1 showed the world that it is the little company that could and did. We at this paper call upon government and opposition leaders in this little country of little people (also) to show Exxon and all the others that we can and will.
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