Kristalina Georgieva is very keen to talk about the research one of her International Monetary Fund economists is doing. Surprisingly, this is not about any of the issues that have gripped the organisation in the past 75 years:balance of payments crises or global recessions.It is about whales and the part they play in the fight against climate change.
“Whales act like giant pumps,” says Georgieva, noting that in its lifetime each of these mammals sequesters 33 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, while an average tree absorbs about 20kg a year.
Comments like this from the new managing director of the IMF have seen her getting some stick since she took over as managing director from Christine Lagarde at the start of October.With the world economy slowing and another financial crash looming, some who attended the IMF’s annual meeting in October said in private that Georgieva was spending too much time on climate change and not enough on the institution’s bread and butter:maintaining financial stability and helping countries in economic trouble.
Georgieva is unrepentant.The climate crisis and financial stability are linked, she says, because if left unattended, global heating will threaten financial stability.“When people say we should be sticking to our mandate, I fully agree,” she says.“That’s exactly what we are doing.”