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Bankers 'destroyed economic eco-system' Johnson leads sustainability debate.

Byline: PETER ELSON

FINANCIAL ecologist Leo Johnson branded the West as having a "carbon beer belly" at a Liverpool breakfast meeting.

"We need to beat up the bankers," he joked to appreciative delegates at the first City Leaders' Breakfast, at Liverpool Cathedral.

"They have destroyed the ecosystem of the economy." Johnson's talk, called Green Regeneration - is it a pipe dream? gave food for thought as delegates consumed their full English breakfasts in the Cathedral''s Western Rooms.

"Banks are instruments of change, just like a poker," said Johnson, a partner in PriceWaterhouseCooper's sustainability and climate change advisory section.

"Their economic point is to discharge capital, but they have got it wrong because of misplaced values. Citigroup allocates around six trillion pounds a day - and it's just a small bank.

"We're at an extraordinary moment in our economic history, this is a time of great challenge.

"There was a ray of hope that the banking system would change, but has the window of opportunity gone? Is there a chance to do something different? "It's as if there has been a car crash, only for the bankers to get out of the car and, instead of changing, got back into the car and tried to revive it with our money.

"Although I come from a position of despair, I am a sustainability practitioner and I believe it's possible to do it differently."

Although the Copenhagen conference on climate change achieved "zilch", he believes good things are happening.

He said: "Nikolas Sarkozy, famous for being married to Carla Bruni, but is also president of France, worked with President Obama to get rid of the $340bn fossil fuel subsidy to oil companies," he said.

"This is a move in the right direction. The biggest driver of our well-being is tax, which must be put back into the economy." Johnson, 42, whose brother, Boris, is Mayor of London, was cofounder of Sustainable Finance, which he sold to PWC.

He worked for the World Bank in Washington and as a teacher in the Far East, later gaining a Masters degree in environmental economics.

The City Leaders' Breakfast was the first such joint event by Liverpool Cathedral, Liverpool RC Metropolitan Cathedral and Liverpool Parish Church of Our Lady & St Nicholas.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 20, 2010
Words:387
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