Department of International Relations, Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia In his 2009 report on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concerns about a range of direct and indirect impacts on the environment. Those concerns included the impact of a slow-down in investment in environmentally sustainable technologies, as well as the impact of stimulus packages that relied on poorly planned infrastructure and resource development. They included worries about whether higher levels of unemployment would result in greater and unsustainable use of subsistence resources. Against the backdrop of these concerns, this article examines the impact of both the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the current global financial crisis on environmental sustainability in East Asia. It shows that both crises generated similar patterns of environmental impact, but that those impacts were at times counter-intuitive and ambiguous. Positive impacts were short-lived and negative impacts were little affected in the longer term.