Using Finance to Protect and Enhance Biodiversity While Simultaneously Sequestering Carbon

Using Finance to Protect and Enhance Biodiversity While Simultaneously Sequestering Carbon

A Chat with Ralph Chami

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Employers are concerned about the 2021 post-COVID “great resignation.” But nobody seems to be talking about what would happen if the most vital, least compensated workforce on the planet ever disappeared. In this episode of the Climate 21 podcast, host Tom Raftery and IMF economist Ralph Chami discuss conservation for the financial crowd, making an intriguing case for assigning monetary value to the ecological and environmental services provided by whales, phytoplankton, seagrass, mangroves and other living organisms. This eye-opening approach to addressing climate change could alter the way you see the natural world.


A single blue whale provides the world with services worth a minimum of $2 million over its lifetime.

When a whale dies, it has about 33 tons of captured carbon in its tissues.  Because the whale’s body sinks to the bottom of the ocean after its death, that carbon will no longer interact with the atmosphere. Over the course of a whale’s life, it sequesters even more carbon through the “whale pump” cycle: Whales feed on krill, and krill feeds on phytoplankton, which is in turn fertilized by plumes of whale excrement. Phytoplankton capture up to 30% of emitted carbon dioxide and return it to the atmosphere as oxygen. While it’s easy to make the argument for whales in terms of carbon capture, how do you express that value for people...

About the Podcast

Ralph Chami is a financial economist and an assistant director at the International Monetary Fund. Tom Raftery is the host of the Climate 21 podcast and a global vice president for the enterprise software company SAP.

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