Before Bailing Them Out, Make Them Stop Destroying The Planet

Make corporate America stop profiting off carbon emissions, and start creating sustainable jobs, as a condition of the bailout.

Corporate bailouts are coming in the wake of COVID, to save millions of jobs from disappearing and the global economy from collapsing.

But before forking over billions, the U.S. should use this moment of desperation to insist that large corporations fundamentally change. To demand that they retool themselves to stop profiting off carbon (and methane) emissions, and invest the bailout money in a zero-carbon future with sustainable jobs.

Interested in how this could be structured? See below.

Screenshot 2020-03-18 17.49.22
Indignant Uncle Sam, by James Montgomery Flagg (circa WW1)


Boeing

What they should have to do:

1) Shift the company’s productive capacity away from airplanes, to renewable energy manufacturing: e.g. making and distributing wind turbines and components.
2) Dramatically increase (100X) the company’s R&D investments in electric and hybrid aviation.

Why: The world doesn’t need more airplanes right now, and won’t for years, with so many currently parked or underutilized. But we do need to move much faster with wind power, which is key to decarbonization. This is a great fit with Boeing’s capabilities – design, manufacture and distribution of ultra-large, aerodynamic systems.



The Airlines

What they should have to do:

1) Stop selling first and business class seats with ginormous carbon footprints.
2) Charge travelers the true cost of each flight, including a carbon emissions cost.
3) Scrap their frequent flyer programs, which keep people addicted to flying.

Why: Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions. Discount fares have ballooned the number of people flying. And luxury flying – e.g. business-class and premium economy – has exacerbated the problem; business class seats have three times the carbon emissions footprint of a coach seat. Why save the airlines, who profitably emitting billions of tons of carbon for decades, unless they can change their destructive structure?



The Detroit Automakers

What they should have to do:

1) Stop producing gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs.
2) Shift all R&D, design, and engineering work to electric vehicles immediately, and stop producing internal combustion vehicles by 2025.

Why: We saved Detroit from bankruptcy in 2009, and they used the money to ramp up production of the biggest, most carbon-emitting SUVs and pickup trucks they could. Why give them more billions now, to keep running the same playbook? Zero-carbon transportation is a must, to have any hope of mitigating the climate threat (and of keeping automative industry jobs)



Wall Street Ba
nks

What the bankers must do:

1) Stop financing fossil fuel projects (upstream, generation, and pipelines).
2) Divest their current fossil fuel holdings (debt and equity) within two years.
3) Plow hundreds of billions into new zero-carbon and carbon-reduction projects.

Why: Why reload the banks again for another boom-and-bust carbon cycle, when we could force them invest in more competitive, sustainable, zero-carbon energy and infrastructure investments?



As a condition of survival, all these corporations should have to shift their capital – and talent – to the future, not keep investing in planet-destroying fossil-fueled products and infrastructure.