16 April 2009

Which Global Meltdown Is Worse?

A panel discussion at the National Stakeholders' Summit of AIESEC India brought out the confusion between the economic crisis and the environmental one. I was asked whether the global economic situation made "going green" less attractive.

My reply was that:
  • Companies will continue to pursue some green projects because of the potential cost savings, though capital-intensive projects may be delayed.
  • The environmental consequences of global climate disruption are, in fact, a much more serious and long-term problem than the current recession. I said, "Ten years from now the recession will be history, but climate change and environmental problems will still be affecting every business."
  • Young professionals like those in AIESEC should consider careers in cleantech and the green space.
  • Green products, methods and ways of doing business aren't necessarily more expensive than more environmentally destructive approaches.
  • Although I forgot to mention it, the possible economic harm due to climate change is much greater than the damage done to the world economy by the current recession. The recession means that the global economy will not grow, and may even shrink for a year or two. Climate change could decrease global GDP by 5-20% compared to what it would have been if we had addressed the problem effectively.
The panelists were (shown left to right) Mr. Ranjit Pandit, Managing Director of the Mumbai office of General Atlantic, Mr. Alok Kejriwal, Co-Founder and CEO of Games2win, Dr. David Wheat of HaraBara, Mr. Rahul Khanna, Director of Clearstone Venture Advisors Pvt. Ltd., and moderator Mr. Jehangir Pocha, Editor in Chief of NewsX.