Letting the Planet Doom!

Letting the Planet Doom!

By Dr Arvind Kumar

It is a historical irony that in the wake of global financial crises agreements to bail out banks happened in days – but even deciding to bail out the planet is taking decades

They bailed out the banks in days. Nicholas Stern estimated that capping climate change would cost around 1% of global GDP, while sitting back and letting it hit us would cost between 5 and 20%. One per cent of GDP is, at the moment, $630bn. It was revealed by Bloomberg that by March 2009, the US Federal Reserve had committed $7.77 trillion to the banks. That is just one government’s contribution: yet it amounts to 12 times the annual global climate change bill. Add the bailouts in other countries, and it rises several more times.This support was issued on demand: as soon as the banks said they wanted help, they got it. On just one day the Federal Reserve made $1.2tr available – more than the world has committed to tackling climate change in two decades.

The banks shouted “help” and the US government just opened its wallet. But getting the US government to commit to any form of bailout for the planet – even a couple of billion – is like pulling teeth. “Unaffordable!”. None has yet been able to explain why making $7.7tr available to the banks is affordable, while investing far smaller sums in new technologies and energy saving is not. The US and other nations began talking seriously about tackling climate change in 1988. Yet we still don’t have a legally binding global agreement, and we are unlikely to get one until 2020, if at all. According to one opinion, agreements to help the banks are struck at economic summits without breaking sweat, yet making progress at climate summits looks like using a donkey to tow a 44-tonne truck.

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