Before Bailing Corporations 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, to save millions of jobs from disappearing and the global economy from collapsing. Boeing. The airlines. Detroit automakers. Wall Street. All will be claiming they’re ‘too big to fail.’

But before forking over the billions, the U.S. should use this moment of desperation to insist these companies fundamentally change. To demand they retool themselves to stop profiting off carbon 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 Bailout

What they must do:

1) Shift half 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.


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.

Airlines Bailout

What they must do:

1) Stop selling different classes of seats. Just one size, with enough legroom.
2) Charge travelers the true cost of each flight, including a carbon emissions cost.


Air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of carbon emissions. Discount fares have ballooned the number of people flying. And the growth of 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, after a crazy-profitable decade emitting billions of tons of carbon, unless they can change their climate-destructive structure?

Detroit Automakers Bailout

What they must 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.


We saved Detroit from bankruptcy in 2009, and they used the money to rev up production of the biggest, most fuel-inefficient vehicles they could design. Why give them billions more now, to keep running the same playbook? Zero-carbon transportation is a must, to have any hope of mitigating the climate threat… and any hope of sustainable automative industry jobs

Wall Street Bailout

What the banks 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.


Banks will get hit hard as corporate and consumer debt goes bad. Exhibit A will be losses from financing the fossil fuel economy – fracking companies, uneconomic coal and gas plants, consumer auto loans, etc.  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, and the future of the planet, not keep investing in the climate-destructive fossil-fueled economy of the past.

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