“The Name is Bond, High Income Bond”:

5 12 2009

Credit Agricole is right, it is time for Green Banking. But let’s be sure what we mean ….

 Credit Agricole, the major global bank has signed Sean Connery to front its drive into “Green Banking”. Claiming a “new business model” focused on “responsible growth, with a reduced risk profile”, the campaign launch is accompanied by an apocalyptic video (see

http://www.credit-agricole.com/greenbanking/english/)

 The movie is high on special effects, light on plot. What is Credit Agricole actually planning to do here?

 They are certainly right that the world needs green banking. But I worry that the business model of major banks may fall somewhat short of the respect for life and the biosphere that we desperately need.

 The current fashion rush to get active around climate change does not address the depth of crises we are facing. Banking that invests in the continued stoking of consumer led growth can only ever be part of the problem, no matter how green it gets painted.

 We are enmeshed in crises of habitat loss, species extinction and food supply that raise policy challenges to make the current financial and fiscal crises look trivial. All of us, business and wider society alike need to learn how to become resilient in the face of multiple threats caused by our current activities of resource use and wastage. Climate change is an important symptom and must be addressed. But addressing climate change alone is to misunderstand the issue. A more difficult systemic assessment is necessary.

 If green banking is to be worth the name, it needs to be banking that breaks with our global addiction to growth as a solution for all ills, to break our addiction to the production and consumption as the source of wellbeing.

 Is Credit Agricole part of the solution? I really do hope so. But it will take more than a movie and the signing of “Bond, corporate Bond” to convince me.

 Chris Nichols

December 2009

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