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Will Christine Lagarde, Incoming ECB President, Be a Climate Crusader?

Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By YiAN Kourt
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Climate change is a growing concern in Europe. Fortunately, European politicians have started addressing the growing threats to our environment. While United States President Donald Trump has insisted that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, European politicians are pursuing real solutions.

Christine Lagarde is the newest ECB president. She is going to make fighting climate change a pillar of her agenda. Anybody that is serious about fighting climate change should be pleased to see that she is taking a hard look at this growing problem.

Navigating Largade’s Positions on Climate Change and Other Key Issues

The European Paliament’s nomination of Christine Lagarde to the role of ECB President is historic, but not one without lingering concerns. With the outgoing Mario Draghi widely credited with rescuing the euro, it falls to Lagarde to steer the ECB through one of its most volatile periods in its relatively short history. Lagarde began her non-renewable, 8-year term on November 1st, an important date on the economic calendar but the questions surrounding how she will handle a divided ECB governing council remain.

Fortunately, she is going to be an advocate for climate and other environmental issues. However, she also has to overcome some other challenges, which could stifle her climate agenda.

The pressure is sure to mount with each passing day of her tenure, so let’s take this opportunity to meet the new President of the ECB at a glance and find out some interesting facts about Christine Lagarde. We will cover her positions on climate issues first, but we should first focus on some tangential issues that could temper her ability to effectively advocate for climate change solutions.

  • The headlines carried the 1st female President of the European Central Bank proudly. Since being established in 1998, the ECB acts as the central bank for the euro, administering the Eurozone’s monetary policy. Comprised of the 19 member states of the European Union, it has had exclusively male Presidents. A matter for public consumption in today’s world of gender equality, which seemed to engage opinion more than the scale of the tasks at hand, including low inflation, weak growth and a divided council.
  • She certainly has the experience, having spent 8 years as the Chairman and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She was also previously France’s Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry from 2007 – 2011. She had also been France’s Minister of Commerce (2005 – 2007). A public servant and a very public figure, Lagarde will harbor no delusions about the task ahead, and – her years in public office serving her well – will have a strategy in mind to manage the Europe’s most powerful financial institution going forward.
  • She was ranked 3rd in Forbes’s list of ‘The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women’ for 2018. A list that included luminaries such as Melinda Gates, Sheryl Sandberg, Queen Elizabeth II, Oprah and many more.
  • She was the 1st woman to become Finance Minister of a G8 economy. Lagarde has accomplished a number of firsts, not least of which was assuming one of the most powerful positions in government for one of the most powerful economies in Europe and, indeed, the world.
  • She has a criminal conviction. Christine Lagarde was found guilty of negligence by a for her role in a controversial €400million payment to Bernard Tapie, a businessman and friend of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French President. Although she was found guilty of failing to challenge the state arbitration payout by a French court to Tapie, she was not given any sentence and was not punished.

Lagarde is clearly a seasoned, high achieving figure who knows what it takes to perform on a very public stage. However, there should be no confusion, the task that lays ahead of her is a monumental one. The most pressing concerns to Lagarde should be: setting Eurozone interest rates, controlling supply of the Euro and keeping inflation just below the ideal 2% threshold. A daunting prospect in a geopolitical climate very much in turmoil.

She is going to be pushing for some major changes to fight climate change. She is going to be focusing on environmental changes that will affect the banking sector, which may be met with resistance. One of these changes is a push to have the European Bank be carbon neutral in the near future. Fortunately, she will also push for some good financial plans, so they should be willing to compromise.

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