Lubber is president of Ceres, a national coalition of investors and public-interest groups focused on environmental issues. Yesterday she was one of the Globe magazine's "earth angels," briefly profiled with five others as part of the issue's green focus.
Today, she's an op-ed contributor, making excellent points that will one day seem so obvious that everyone will wonder why, and rue, that they weren't conventional wisdom.
She says it better than I will, since, like, it's her idea, but essentially she contrasts Wall Street's behavior that necessitated today's proposed bailout with its broad-based ignorance of the hidden carbon risks in its investment strategies.
A recent Ceres/RiskMetrics report that evaluated climate governance practices found that 14 of 40 banks had adopted risk management policies or lending procedures that address climate change in a systematic way. Only six were formally calculating carbon risk in their lending portfolios. And no bank had a policy to avoid investments in carbon-intensive projects such as new coal-fired power plants. [edited to tighten.]
Unquestionably, climate change has costs — even the semi-deniers (Sarah Palin comes to mind), who concede there is warming but not that humans are responsible, would grant that. So far, we've just been letting those costs run up on a public tab, but eventually they're going to come due in several ways.
The way I see it most affecting Wall Street is when, because of their environmental liabilities, coal-fired power plants are no longer considered prime assets, and once again, an island of bad paper appears from "nowhere."
No nuclear power plants have been built since Three Mile Island, and one of the foremost reasons is that financing the plants has become so difficult. By implication, Lubber suggests that the same fate should befall coal plants, and I agree.