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The Myth of Green Capitalism

It is perfectly understandable that major corporations and private financial institutions would rally behind new disclosure standards and other market-based measures to address climate change. It is an approach that allows the owners of capital yet another way to avoid a real reckoning.

NEW YORK – Heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires are devastating communities around the world, and they will only grow more severe. While climate-change deniers remain powerful, the need for urgent action is now recognized well beyond activist circles. Governments, international organizations, and even business and finance are bowing to the inevitable – or so it seems.

In fact, the world has wasted decades tinkering with carbon trading and “green” financial labeling schemes, and the current vogue is merely to devise fancy hedging strategies (“carbon offsets”) in defiance of the simple fact that humanity is sitting in the same boat. “Offsetting” may serve individual asset holders, but it will do little to avert the climate disaster that awaits us all.

The private sector’s embrace of “green capitalism” appears to be yet another gimmick to avoid a real reckoning. If business and finance leaders were serious, they would recognize the need to change course drastically to ensure that this planet remains hospitable for all of humanity now and in the future. This is not about substituting brown assets for green ones, but about sharing the losses that brown capitalism has imposed on millions and ensuring a future even for the most vulnerable.

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