Editorial: The ascent of green crime: exploring the nexus between the net zero transition and organized crime

Published date24 May 2022
Date24 May 2022
Subject MatterAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorMary Alice Young,Deborah Adkins
Editorial: The ascent of green
crime: exploring the nexus
between the net zero transition
and organized crime
The energy sector both holds the key to human prosperity and averting the worst ef‌fects of
climate change. (Adkins, 2022).
This editorial highlights a fundamental gap in the existing literature base whereby the
climate crisis is largely missing from journals covering all aspects of f‌inance including
those that cover f‌inancial crime (for a wider discussion, see Stern, 2021). Specif‌ically, in
relation to f‌inancial crime and clean energy, there is no known research on net-zero
emissions goals and the proceedsof crime. Although Williams (2013), highlightsthat carbon
trading schemes (wherebycompanies and countries look to offset emissions), arevulnerable
to money laundering practices due to the similarities of such schemes with traditional
f‌inancial markets, the authors of this editorial widen the argument to encompass the
potential of organized crime groups to prof‌it from proposed incentives and policies to
support decarbonisation.For example, proposed policies in the UK to encourage deployment
of low-carbon heating systems such as the home upgrades grant,social housing
decarbonisation fundand clean heat grant. In 2022, as the world seeks to rapidly
decarbonise and wean itself off fossil fuels, the authors recognise the immense potential
benef‌its for economic enterprise,new business models, solutions and innovations. However,
as will be shown in this brief discussion piece, the legitimateindustries, which are linked to
future-proof‌ing the world from climate change and thus improving the wellbeing of all
societies at the internationallevel, risk being undermined by organizedcrime groups.
In 2021, in her editorial for this journal, Young addressed the links between organized
crime and the upper world and highlighted that objective, which are inherently linked to
global plans to improve societys wellbeing at the international level (for example, the
manufacture of ventilators during the Pandemic), can easily cross into the territory of the
morally corrupt values of political gains and in the worst cases, cross the boundary from
the licit to the illicit (JFC, 2021). The observation that utilitarian actions on behalf of
governments are vulnerable to organized crime, is equally applicable to the energy sector.
Indeed, as shown by L
opez-Vallejo and Fuerte-Celis in north-eastern Mexico, the economic
activities of poly-criminal groups are expanding to encompass fossil fuel projects (L
Vallejo and del Pilar Fuerte-Celis, 2021). While energy production remains the primary
driver of greenhouse gas emissions, the local example above can be viewed as a
representative case study for all economies which invest in the energy sector (be it fossil
fuels or clean energy) and attract both legitimate and criminal entrepreneurs. The authors
purport that the clean energy industry, which revolves around decarbonisation and the
reduction of fossil fuels, is also open to criminal manipulation and has the potential to
generate vast proceedsof crime.
Due to the newnessof this area of research,there are no known f‌igures on the proceeds
of crime generated by the clean energy industry.However, there are f‌igures on the amount
of funding available for countries to achieve decarbonisation goals. The Members of the
Glasgow Finance Alliance for Net Zero, have a resourcing budget of $130tn available for
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.29 No. 3, 2022
pp. 789-791
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-07-2022-277

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