BusinessCorporate FinanceCredit crunch to the rescue

Credit crunch to the rescue

The planet could benefit from the financial crisis

They’ve always said ‘a week is a long time in politics’, but given the events
of the last week we might want to shorten the time duration, perhaps to 24
hours. When the history books are written at the end of this century, what will
they be saying? My crystal ball is no better than anyone else’s but I suspect we
might find the events of the last few weeks being analysed in a positive way.

I attended a sustainability conference a little while back. It was an
opportunity to hear leading experts present the hard scientific facts on climate
change, population growth and resource usage ­ a much more toxic mix than that
presented by credit crunch.

As we considered the issues it became clear that based on the current
trajectory of change we are likely to experience some very unpleasant situations
in the second half of the century ­ conflicts over energy, food, water and other
resources, the displacement of a significant number of people living on the
seaboard, the list went on.

We reached the view, which many others have reached, that in order to avert
disaster we needed concerted action, a real sense of urgency. Put simply, we
needed a catastrophic natural event, the like of which we haven’t yet seen.

So last weekend as I read the Sunday press I had a ‘eureka moment’.

Why wait for the natural disaster when you can use a man-made event to the
same effect?
The credit crunch has, after all, resulted in the type of global behaviour we
need to deal with climate change ­ global leaders, working together to effect
global change in a matter of days.

The opportunity we now have is to harness the collaboration and momentum
achieved through the credit crunch to the larger issue of climate change. This
may not be such a big ask.

I sense the events of the past two weeks will change the nature of the way
corporates have operated for the past 50 years, furthermore we must recognise
that lower economic activity does bring some benefits ­ lower carbon emissions
for one.

And finally, and most importantly, the credit crunch has provided a stark
reminder to us all in the western world that, in the final analysis, the only
things that really matter in life are food, water and warmth.

David Phillips is senior corporate reporting partner in
the assurance practice of
PricewaterhouseCoopers

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