AIG's Latest Failure: Climate Change
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The stunning fall of AIG has left a number of things in its wake: billions of dollars in bailout money, big questions about federal regulation of investment, and, of course, layoffs. But the latest thing to get the axe might be the most surprising of all: global climate change.It's true--before AIG collapsed, it had launched an ambitious new program designed to deal specifically with everything related to climate change. According to Climate Wire, AIG's controversial decision to get into the business of climate change--which was loathed by certain oil company bigwigs--was going to lead the company into pretty progressive and downright ambitious territory.
the company was accelerating toward its new goals by inventorying its greenhouse gases, collecting offsets for a year's worth of emissions, developing insurance policies for renewable energy providers, and brainstorming for financial instruments that would assist innovators in the green movement. AIG was crowned a leader on climate change.Which all sounds pretty good--though it's easy to see how those good intentions were lost over infuriating revelations of reckless investment and unvalidated corporate bonuses. And for now at least, the initiatives look like they'll remain exactly that: good intentions.
Last month, AIG quietly disbanded its entire climate change program--the offsets, the greenhouse gas inventory, the investment program for clean energy. Everything. It's assumed that it was a budgetary decision--clean energy is deemed too risky, too low on reward right now. And some feel that it's a terrible mistake; not only for AIG, but for the entire environmental community. From Climate Wire:
AIG's failures could have a deep impact on all insurers' ability to relieve climate change, says Richard Thomas, who left the company as a senior vice president about six months ago. That could be a scary scenario for environmental activists, who believe the massive industry, with $6.3 trillion in assets, can fortify emerging innovators and markets offering alternative energy and other climate fixes.In other words, AIG could be a major force in helping to fight climate change--it could secure green investments and provide much needed funding to those developing carbon-cutting innovations like clean energy or fuel efficient vehicles.
Now, such investment will only be available through the much broader Global Marine and Energy division--but nothing designated specifically for confronting climate change. It's kind of ironic, really--the company that had a hand in creating a global recession by making unsustainable investments was on the brink of making some of the most important, most sustainable investments of all.