Gaslighting

Prime Minister Dr Rowley - AYANNA KINSALE
Prime Minister Dr Rowley - AYANNA KINSALE

BRITISH Petroleum, Shell, Exxon Mobil – these are not just the names of companies with which the Prime Minister met this month.

These are also the companies that last week faced renewed allegations that they have been “gaslighting” the world when it comes to their purported efforts to go “green.”

Officials of a committee of the US House of Representatives which has been investigating the role played by key players in the climate crisis say these companies have been engaged in misleading PR tactics.

“Big Oil is gaslighting the public,” said the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Carolyn Maloney. “These companies claim they are a part of the solution to climate change, but internal documents reveal that they are continuing with business as usual.”

Those documents suggest these companies are not only contradicting their outward commitments but also targeting environmental activists with disdain.

The companies all last week denied wrongdoing, accusing the committee of releasing selected portions of materials without context and ignoring a wealth of evidence showing their activities in a different light.

Still, these developments force us to renew fundamental questions: What is this country’s real position when it comes to green energy? And what is the price of this country’s courting these companies now?

Not only did Dr Rowley meet with these entities this month, but he has a history of doing so throughout his two terms as prime minister, having previously met them in 2017 and 2019.

Outwardly, the Prime Minister has expressed support for the reduction of carbon output. He has placed emphasis on this country focusing on hydrogen, along with carbon capture and storage.

His meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday in Washington, DC, saw him once more highlight the potential role of hydrocarbon resources in ensuring our energy security.

Dr Rowley has also at times seemingly expressed a pragmatic, as opposed to principled, view that energy companies are here to stay and have a continued role to play pending whatever transitions are in store. His administration last year called for a review of taxation measures in relation to such companies, but to date this review is pending.

Meanwhile, the State’s implementation of measures to make us environmentally friendly often appear tepid or scattershot.

Perhaps a good example is the recent disclosure by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) that while most of the approximately 300 buses soon to be imported will be electric, infrastructure is not yet in place to support them.

This country has much to lose if the current climate crisis continues. Is it not worth taking bolder stances and more definitive, detectable action?

It is hard not to ask whether it is our leaders doing the real gaslighting.

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