Sunday, January 11, 2009

You the green NGO’s, you are all barking up the wrong tree.

The environmental groups are barking up the wrong tree when trying to influence institutions such as the World Bank to pursue investments that can counter the threat of climate change.

Not that the World Bank is not important, as a standard setter, but, out there, in the real world, if we are talking about mobilizing financial resources there are other institutions much more important, like the Basel Committee, the global bank regulator.

The Basel Committee decided that the one and only role for our banks was not to default and to such effect it set up a system of minimum capital requirements for banks based on credit risks, and empowered the credit rating agencies as the risk surveyors of the world.

Not a good idea! The credit rating agencies rated securities backed with lousily awarded mortgages as AAA, which signifies a zero risk, and then more than two trillions of world capitals, something like 20 World Banks, invested in those securities, only since 2004.

And here we are now facing a deep global financial crisis that is going to bring more misery to millions if not billions of people around the globe.

Can you imagine if those minimum capital requirements for banks had been based on the risk of climate change? Without any doubt we could still be immersed in a crisis, though surely not as severe, but our planet would surely have been placed on a more sustainable path.

And so I ask. What are you doing in Washington? Do you not know your way to Basel?