Tagged ‘Hunter Lovins‘

The Bankers at the Helm of the ‘Natural Capital’ Sector

January 26, 2017

by Michael Swifte



Let’s put a spotlight on four bankers who positioned themselves in the ‘natural capital’ sector around the time of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Let’s have a look at some of their networks.

The reason these bankers have positions at the intersection of big finance and the conservation sector is because of their intimate knowledge of financial instruments and what some call “financial innovation”. They follow the edict ‘measure it and you can manage it’. They are the perfect addition to decades of work – as part of the sustainable development agenda – aimed at quantifying the economic value of nature in order to exploit it as collateral to underwrite the new economy.

Banker 1


John Fullerton is a former managing director at JPMorgan, he founded the Capital Institute in 2010, in 2014 he became a member of the Club of Rome, he has written a book called Regenerative Capitalism.

“No doubt the shift in finance will require both carrots and sticks, and perhaps some clubs.” [Source]

The first of Fullerton’s key networked individuals is Gus Speth who consults to the Capital Institute, he sits on the US Advisory Board of and the New Economy Coalition board and is good buddies with the godfather of ‘ecosystem services’ Bob Costanza. He has a long history supporting sustainable development projects and has some seriously heavy hitting networks. He founded two conservation organisations with which he was actively engaged up until 2o12, both organisations continue to support ‘natural capital’ projects among other diabolical efforts.

The second networked individual is Hunter Lovins, an award winning author and environmentalist who heads up Natural Capital Solutions and is an advisor to the Capital Institute. She is a long term cheer leader for green capitalism, climate capitalism, and sustainable development.

Banker 2


Mark Tercek was a managing director at Goldman Sachs and became the CEO of The Nature Conservancy in 2008, he has written a book called Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

“This reminds me of my Wall Street days. I mean, all the new markets—the high yield markets, different convertible markets, this is how they all start.” [Source]

One of Tercek’s networked individuals is conservation biologist Gretchen Daily, the person Hank Paulson sent him to meet when he accepted the leadership of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Daily co-founded the Natural Capital Project in 2005 with the help of  WWF, TNC and the University of Minnesota.

Another prominent figure in TNC is Peter Kareiva, senior science advisor to Mark Tercek and co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, he is also the former chief scientist of TNC and its former vice president.

Taylor Ricketts is also a co-founder of the Natural Capital Project, at the time of founding he was the director of conservation science at WWF. He’s now the director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics which was founded by Bob Costanza.

Banker 3


Hank Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, he was US treasury secretary during the GFC, he’s a former chair of the TNC board and the driving force behind the 2008 bail out bill. In 2011 he launched the Paulson Institute which is focussed on China, he has written a memoir called On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.

Even before he was made treasury secretary by George W Bush, Paulson had an interest in conservation finance and greening big business. He was a founding partner of Al Gore and David Blood’s, Generation Investment Management which operates the “sustainable capitalism” focussed Generation Foundation. He has worked with Gus Speth’s World Resources Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop environmental policy for Goldman Sachs. In 2004 he facilitated the donation from Goldman Sachs of 680,000 acres of wilderness in southern Chile to the Wildlife Conservation Society and in 2002-04 he and his wife Wendy donated $608,000 to the League of Conservation Voters. He has also worked with the second largest conservation organisation on the planet Conservation International.

“The environment and the economy have been totally misconstrued as incompatible,”[Source]


“[…] It is is clear that a system of market-based conservation finance is vital to the future of environmental conservation.” [Source]

Banker 4


Pavan Sukhdev is a former managing director and head of Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets business in India, he was the study leader of the G8+5  project, he founded the Green Accounting for Indian States Project, he co-founded and chairs an NGO in India called the Conservation Action Trust, he headed up the United Nations Environment Program – Green Economy Initiative which was launched in 2008, he has written a book called  Corporation 2020: Transforming Business For Tomorrow’s World 

Sukdev’s work cuts across more than a dozen UN agencies and scores of international agencies and initiatives. Here are just some of them: IUCN, ILO, WHO, UNESCO, IPBES, WEF, IMF, OECD. Every kind of commodity and economic activity has been covered through his work.

“We use nature because she’s valuable, but we lose nature because she’s free.” [Source]

There are only a one or two degrees of separation between these bankers and the environmental movements with which we are very familiar. Looking at key networked individuals connected to the representatives of the financial elites – bankers – helps to highlight the silences and privately held pragmatic positions of many an environmental pundit. “Leaders” of our popular environmental social movements don’t want to be seen or heard supporting the privatisation of the commons, but they remain silent in the face of a growing surge towards collateralization of the earth. Perhaps they too believe that using nature to capitalise the consumer economy is preferable to the toxic derivatives that precipitated the GFC. Either way the underlying motivation – for anyone who might feel that ecosystem services thinking is useful for the earth – is the desire for the continuation of our consumer economy.



Capitalism Trumps Climate

by Lorna Salzman

How many of you actually think that there are sincere and meaningful efforts being made to mitigate climate change? If your answer is yes, then what proof do you offer? What groups, individuals, policies or legislation do you think are making a difference or will in the near future? Why do you think so?

I will wager that more than half of you will answer yes to the first question and will then mention Bill McKibben and, and perhaps a few other obscure groups here or abroad that you have read about on the internet or in the news. But you will not be able to demonstrate exactly what these groups or individuals have accomplished, what they are doing right now, or what they say they will do in the future. That’s because almost none of them actually have real action plans that they believe in and which they are promoting.

The ugly truth is that the most influential and prominent of these groups are planning to do EXACTLY NOTHING. Do you think this is hyperbole? You won’t if you will take the time to find out who funds these groups and what their strategies are. I say “strategies” plural but that is incorrect.

There is only one strategy and that is to SAVE CAPITALISM. And they don’t even try to hide this or deny it. Let me say it again: these groups and their hidden funders and sponsors have only one objective: to use the climate change issue as a way of preserving markets and, most important, creating NEW ones. In other words, develop new ways of making profits that do not interfere with the present system or restrict economic growth.

You probably think: well, they mean renewable energy so what’s wrong with that? But if that were really the case, why was there such a massive campaign in this country not to promote renewable energy but to promote cap and trade? Why have they refused to support the things that would make renewable energy viable such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks and taxing CO2? The cap and trade campaign was dreamed up by investment houses, brokers, financiers, and the coal industry, with a few big enviros alongside, to accomplish several things:

–delay as long as possible the shutdown of coal burning power plants;

–maintain the oil and natural gas-based economy as long and as cheaply as possible;

–push off indefinitely (to well past the year 2030) any serious efforts at reducing energy consumption through efficiency or other measures;

–avoid at all costs a carbon tax or anything that would increase energy costs and thereby stifle growth;

–keep existing federal subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil and nuclear industry.

This is by default our present national energy policy and no one, including, has proposed anything different: no one in government, no one in industry, and no one in the top echelons of the environmental community, even though one of them, Gus Speth, knows full well what needs to be done.

None of this should be surprising, at least to those who have been paying attention or who have not bought hook, line and sinker the empty words of people like Bill McKibben, who is good at whipping crowds into a green frenzy but incapable of telling them what they should do. There is NO ENERGY AGENDA of any merit being pushed ANYWHERE, and anyone who thinks it is only the Republicans to blame is inhaling from the Big Bong. There is bipartisan and universal agreement that the first order of business is Business and the earth be damned. even sent out shameless mailings to business to curry favor with them and suck them in to believing that nothing drastic or costly need be done and that only a few nips and tucks at the margins were needed.

We are therefore being lied to, big time, by those who actually believe that climate change can be mitigated with minimal effort and cost, and that there need be no hardship or sacrifice at all. This is the latest in Comfort Food for the masses and reassurance for industry and the financial community. The only problem is that it comes with no guarantee that climate catastrophe will NOT happen. It is no better than the reassurances of the nuclear industry that a Fukushima-size disaster could never happen in this country. It is the ultimate in Happy Faces, in wishful thinking, and in calming the public’s fears.

But it is leading us over the cliff.

In case you think this is exaggeration, here is a promotional piece for Hunter Lovins, Amory Lovin’s ex-wife and an energy consultant in her own right.




Hardcover • 400 pp. • $27.95

ISBN 978-0-8090-3473-4

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? Sign Up for the April 29th Teleforum

? Read a preview excerpt from Climate Capitalism (PDF)



“A must-read for entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, and corporations interested in capitalizing on the greatest wealth-creation opportunity of our lifetime: solving climate change.” —Jigar Shah, founder, SunEdison, and CEO, Carbon War Room

Whether you believe in climate change or not, it doesn’t matter. If your goal is profitability, you’ll act as if you do. As CLIMATE CAPITALISM shows, climate-protection efforts have failed because we have ignored the most powerful tool for unleashing the low-energy future: the business case. In their book, L. Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions and coauthor of Natural Capitalism, and Boyd Cohen, CEO of CO2IMPACT, draw on case studies of international corporations, small businesses, NGOs, and municipalities to demonstrate that efficiency and renewable energy equal the path to greater profitability and enhanced economic prosperity. Through addressing business opportunities across a range of sectors, including energy, buildings, transportation, and agriculture technologies, Lovins and Cohen powerfully address the future of capitalism in a carbon-constrained world and prove that climate change policy will promote, not hinder, the growth of our global economy.

Corporate executives, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, and concerned citizens will all find CLIMATE CAPITALISM a feisty, opportunity-rich read—one that offers a compelling road map for a new energy economy.

“A highly persuasive demonstration of how profitable economic choices can take us a long way toward dealing with climate disruption, the misguided aspects of our agriculture, oil’s strategically catastrophic monopoly over transportation, the poverty of the bottom billion, and much else. Creative and deftly crafted.”—Jim Woolsey, Former Director of CIA, Booz Allen Hamilton

“L. Hunter Lovins’ latest book should be on every CEO’s reading list and required in every corporate board room.”—Bill Becker, Executive Director, Presidential Climate Action Project

“One of the fastest growing areas in business schools today is entrepreneurship, and more specifically social entrepreneurship . . . . Climate Capitalism provides both direction and inspiration for these students who do not accept the artificial tradeoff between doing well and doing good.”—R. Bruce Hutton, dean emeritus, Daniels College of Business, University of Denver

“Nobody does a better job of laying out the business case for pursuing a cleaner, more profitable form of capitalism than Hunter Lovins.”—Andrew Winston, founder, Winston Eco-Strategies and author of Green Recovery

Note the claim that the “best case” for a low-energy future is “the business case”, stressing “the future of capitalism in a carbon-constrained world” followed by the promise that the global economy will GROW, not contract. Well, one might believe in this growth but what they don’t consider is the likelihood of a complete collapse of the global economy. If you start from a collapse, i.e. from nothing, then anything after that can be considered growth.

“Profitable economic choices” is the reward held out for not taking drastic action now in reducing energy use and mandating stringent energy efficiency measures….both of which would of course constrain growth. Having your cake and eating it too….

I do not doubt that Hunter Lovins and her associates truly believe and want a renewable energy economy. What I do doubt is whether they have read up on the science of climate change and the narrowing window of time left to us to get our house in order. Anyone who has read this knows full well that many scientists believe we are already past several tipping points and that we will be forced into adaptation and defensive measures. Where money will be found for these gigantic projects, “earth works”, to protect urban infrastructure is by no means clear. Will the budget cutters change their minds and dole out billions of dollars to the states to protect water supplies, power grids, sewage systems and transportation systems?