I am intrigued by the number of conferences and events on 'greening of financial services'. Unless I got it wrong, I am not sure if financial services is on the top 10 list of industries contributing to global warming. However, I am sure banks can contribute
to 'carbon credits' by encouraging electronic access and cutting down on the tons of statements and reports that get printed. Electronic money also should reduce the amount paper going into printing currency. E Trading and exchanges should also go a long way
to greening our world.
I think a more important question for the financial services industry is on how much can they
INFLUENCE their customers towards reducing carbon emissions and following environment friendly policies. For e.g., can banks offer preferential terms of credit to customers and companies who are more eco-friendly? Can banks also influence legislation
to allow digital records as sufficient - organisations keep a lot of paper simply because the laws require them to.
Financial services being the 'enabling' force behind global commerce can surely take a lead in pulling the levers of capital and credit to force customers to adopt greener trade practices. Just as there are regulations on governance, compliance and risk
management, there is a need for the industry to come up with a 'Basel II' kind of global specification on environment friendly practices.
Surely, something for legislators to ponder over. Else, we may find ourselves reacting when it's all over - just like the present credit crisis!