The Weekend Wonk: Who Cares? Financier Says “Not Me”. Gore has Fiery Answer

May 27, 2022

Not much new in the rant by banking exec Stuart Kirk above, given at a recent Financial Times conference. Basically warmed-over Bjørn Lomborg stuff, with the addition of the punch line “Who Cares?”. He does exhibit some “Lord Monckton” pretentiousness, ie throwing out latin phrases, as in his assertion that impacts on, say, the average citizen of Bangladesh in 2100, will be “de minimis”, and borrows from Rex Tillerson’s “We’ll Adapt”.
Not a word, or indication of the slightest glimmer of awareness of the impact on the natural world and it’s life support system of long term climate change. Mr Kirk demonstrates with a graph of S&P returns of the last century, unaffected by wars, depressions, and all those obvious non-issues that lesser beings handwring about. No indication, for instance, of a 100 million souls perishing in WW2. (Obviously there never was a problem, so can you shut up about that non-event already?)

In case you were wondering what the internal dialogue of a soulless Wall Street monster sounds like, you can listen in.

New York Times:

HSBC (so named after a founding member Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) is in damage-control mode after a senior executive said policymakers and central bankers had exaggerated the financial risk of climate change.

Stuart Kirk, the head of responsible investing for the bank’s asset management division, last week compared predictions about the negative effects of climate change to “Y2K” theories that a computer glitch would cause havoc at midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

“There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world,” he said at a Financial Times conference in a presentation titled, “Why investors need not worry about climate risk.”

He added: “What bothers me about this one is the amount of work these people make me do. The amount of regulation coming down the pipes. The number of people in my team and at HSBC dealing with financial risk from climate change.”

Later in the speech, he said: “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six meters underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it.”

Note: Amsterdam is about 6 feet, not 6 meters, below sea level.
Today, this rant from Al Gore showed up online, which appears to be a response.

BTW if anyone can point me to the full recording of this, I’d be grateful.

Noel Quinn, HSBC’s group chief executive, said in a post on LinkedIn over the weekend that he did not agree with Mr. Kirk’s comments. “They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management,” he said, adding, “We have a lot of work to do, and I am determined that our team won’t be distracted by last week’s comments.”

In a comment on the post, Nuno Matos, the chief executive of HSBC’s wealth and personal banking division, said he was “in complete agreement” with Mr. Quinn. “The transition to net zero is of utmost importance to us and we will strive for ways to help our clients on this journey.”

A spokesman for HSBC said it could not comment on individual employees. The Financial Times reported that Mr. Kirk had been suspended, pending an internal investigation.

Fast Company:

In a new report, Deloitte estimates the economic impact of letting climate change continue unchecked, including the cost of an increasing number of disasters along with failing crops, land lost to sea level rise, lost productivity because of extreme heat, and increased disease, among other impacts. By 2070, if emissions continue on the current path, the model estimates that it will cost the global economy $178 trillion. But if nations can decarbonize by the middle of the century, we could add $43 trillion in value instead.

Deloitte:

SAIPAN, 24 May 2022 – A new report from the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress (DCSP) released during the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting indicates that—if left unchecked—climate change could cost the global economy US$178 trillion over the next 50 years, or a 7.6% cut to global gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2070 alone. If global warming reaches around 3°C toward the century’s end, the toll on human lives could be significant—disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable and leading to loss of productivity and employment, food and water scarcity, worsening health and well-being, and ushering in an overall lower standard of living globally.

Deloitte’s Global Turning Point Report is based on research conducted by the Deloitte Economics Institute. The report analyzed 15 geographies in Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Americas, and found that if global leaders unite in a systemic net-zero transition, the global economy could see new five-decade gains of US$43 trillion—a boost to global GDP of 3.8% in 2070.

“The time for debate is over. We need swift, bold and widespread action now—across all sectors,” said Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen. “Will this require a significant investment from the global business community, from governments, from the non-profit sector? Yes. But inaction is a far costlier choice. The data bears that out. What we have before us is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-orient the global economy and create more sustainable, resilient, and equitable long-term growth. In my mind the question is not why we should make this investment, it’s how can we not?”

Deseret News:

U.N. predicts that worldwide disasters will get worse: The GAR 2022 report stated that the world saw about 400 disasters a year in 2015. If current trends continue, we could see about 560 disasters a year by 2030. 

  • “The number of extreme heat waves in 2030 will be three times what it was in 2001 and there will be 30% more droughts, the report predicted. It’s not just natural disasters amplified by climate change, it’s COVID-19, economic meltdowns, and food shortages. Climate change has a huge footprint in the number of disasters,” according to reporting by The Associated Press
  • The cost of disasters has gone from about $70 billion a year in 1990 to more than $170 billion a year in 2022, according to the U.N

Byline Times:

Buried in the report, which was endorsed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, is the finding that escalating synergies between disasters, economic vulnerabilities and ecosystem failures are escalating the risk of a “global collapse” scenario.

This stark conclusion appears to be the first time that the UN has issued a flagship global report finding that existing global policies are accelerating toward the collapse of human civilisation. Yet somehow this urgent warning has remained unreported until now.

The report does not suggest that this outcome is inevitable or specify how close to this possibility we are. But it does confirm that, without radical change, that’s where the world is heading.

12 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: Who Cares? Financier Says “Not Me”. Gore has Fiery Answer”

  1. jimbills Says:

    “Climate change = Y2K.”

    It’s sobering to note how too many of the leaders of our world are morons.


    • What’s even more sobering is to to think about who put those leaders there.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      That idiot: It was the warnings about Y2K that got people prepared. A lot of vulnerable code was fixed so it wouldn’t happen. (Meanwhile, the usual woo-meisters and preppers and rapture-warners played it up as an existential threat.)

      This idiot has no sense of scale. Was it the Old Boys Club or blackmail that got him that high position?

  2. ubrew12 Says:

    My problem with Stuart Kirk’s argument (that the damage is negligible to the economy, so fuggetaboutit), is why are we hearing this now? These guys have spent the last 40 years claiming the Science is bunk. If you’ve been lying about it for 40 years, why are we supposed to believe you now?

    Miami is built on porous dead coral: if the ocean rises 6 feet it’ll rise up from below, and no Amsterdam-style sea wall is going to keep it out. And lets stop pretending the ocean is going to stop at 6 feet. It’ll stop at 60 feet. Long before it reaches that we’ll have run out of fossil fuels and have been forced to undertake the effort Mr. Kirk finds so objectionable today. The economy may be ‘big’, but solar panels that cost a dollar a decade ago, cost a dime today. And itt’s that kind of innovation toward reduced costs that Mr Kirk seems determined to ‘save’ us from.

  3. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    It’ll stop at 60 feet. Long before it reaches that we’ll have run out of fossil fuels…

    You mean there won’t be Smokers in Waterworld?

  4. jimbills Says:

    Kirk apparently has a number of supporters for his speech in the Wall Street crowd:

    WSJ: “But he merely said what many in his industry believe but are too timid to say: Climate change poses a negligible risk to the global economy and bank balance sheets.”

    Conservative sources like the National Review and the Heartland Institute have already rushed out their support as well.

    Here is a rather bloodless, middle-of-the-road opinion piece about the speech:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/bobeccles/2022/05/24/the-stock-market-and-climate-change-a-very-provocative-speech-by-stuart-kirk/

    In related news, Amazon’s shareholders held a vote recently (while simultaneously approving increased executive pay):

    Amazon shareholders reject 15 motions on worker rights and environment
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/may/25/amazon-shareholder-proposal-worker-health-safety

  5. ubrew12 Says:

    Much of Stuart Kirks argument (that climate change won’t affect the economy much) is actually an admission that the market economy sucks at valuing ‘negative externalities’. There is a market, the climate is outside of it. So not only is the market making the climate worse, but it has no way of seeing that its getting worse. The classic mistake of people obsessed with money, like Mr. Kirk, is assuming there is nothing outside of money. But market capitalism is not the car, it’s the engine. Mr. Kirk says “the reason for the car, is to have an engine in it.” I think most people would disagree. In the 15 years prior to 2008, Wallstreet built up a subprime mortgage bubble of around $350 billion. I’m certain the reason for its popping was mysterious to Mr. Kirk. One day it was worth $350 billion, and the next $0 billion. But it was no mystery to the people who got those mortgages: they couldn’t afford them. So the bubble had no value all along. Today, if we act to keep global warming below 2C, the fossil bubble that will pop is worth $700 billion to investors in OECD countries. To keep this bubble from popping, the Kirks are saying ‘who cares’ if the planet warms above 2C? Possibly, ‘market capitalism’ doesn’t care (although Deloitte seems to think it will). But more fundamentally, why would Mr. Kirk only ask ‘market capitalism’ its opinion? The mere fact that climate change is a ‘negative externality’ suggests there’s a whole world beyond the limits of Kirks market. And that world is dying.

    BTW, Kirk says the world is going to be 500%-1000% richer by 2100 than it is now. That assumes population will continue exploding as it did throughout the 20th century. Highly unlikely.

  6. redskylite Says:

    HSBC have suspended Stuart Kirk, but it remains to be seen if they fire him.

    According to his Linkedlin profile he mastered at Cambridge University and has held some impressive sounding posts since. His speech seems to have gained some support amongst some financial circles, certainly hope my investments are not controlled by someone with his mindset, and wonder what Cambridge taught him.

    Perhaps he was driving a car along this road with the others.

  7. Keith Omelvena Says:

    Good on Al Gore for giving these financial geniuses both barrels.
    Earth can be a steralised wasteland, as long as stock prices don’t suffer.


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