by Einar Du Rietz
Environmental watchdogs are increasingly pointing out funds as dubious, because of investments in different energy companies. In a recent – undercover – study (Swedish) non of the four checked banks proved to offer the clean investments they advertise.
Fraud? Not really, but certainly hypocrisy.
The criteria change and the transparency should not be taken for granted. Funds that exclude energy companies naturally do not exclude wind and solar energy, and oil companies can be accepted as long as they claim to be investing in new technology. No one looks at what companies expropriate land with the help of government, only – sometimes – if they can be suspected of taking part in a downright military conflict. Well, even the latter can be discussed. What if the company are on the side of the god guys? Yes, who are the good guys…? Should the hotel chain to which the “Hotel Rwanda” belongs be excluded for involvement in a conflict? Or, for that matter, any company doing business in communist China?
In churches and help organisations, most often run like big corporations, the – typically professional – financial analysts are often furious over stricter criteria, simply because they may mean less revenue, and consequently less money for charitable work.
More and more funds are even putting global warming into their names. They should be free to do that, but to expect to fall in the the category of ethical funds because of an asserted ambivalence towards CO2, in a debate where it’s not at all certain that any global warming is going on, and especially not if it then would be caused by human activity, is more than pretentious.
Anyone should be free to select investments based on convictions, and anyone should have the right to proper information. As this dubious market looks today, my recommendation would be to simply go for the most prosperous investments, in the more solid belief that prosperity and growth is and will be the best antidote against humanitarian and environmental problems.