With Cop 21 unfolding in Paris, Commonwealth Bank Chief economist Michael Blythe took the opportunity to spotlight Australia’s environmental challenges when he spoke to ABIE members and friends recently.
In his talk, Weathering the Economic Cycle and Climate Change, he warned that the economic loss associated with climate change was already significant, and that the potential damage from doing nothing was very large. “Climate change”, he said, “is the biggest risk issue the world can see”.
He pointed out the Catch 22 that faces Australia: “As a one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal and LNG, the country provides the world with much needed energy. But this increases greenhouse gas emissions at a time the world should be reducing them. Added to this, weak economies and fiscal pressures have reduced the momentum for change.
“Mr Blythe said that the Commonwealth Bank was already applying environmental risk management framework to lending/investing decisions, and supporting businesses and technologies that reduced dependence on fossil fuels”.
Included in their Australian lending portfolio is 180 renewable energy projects, while billions is currently being invested by the bank in renewables in Europe.
He said the Australian economic was still facing headwinds, but pointed to 2% economic growth and 6% unemployment as “not the figures of a recession”.
His research showed that construction job gains had offset mining job losses. “After Dubai, there are more cranes in the Sydney skyline than anywhere else in the world”.
He predicted US interest rates would kick up shortly, having a wide-spread impact on world markets, while the Chinese economy would grow at 6.5% for the next two years.
Michael Blythe’s bi-annual economic seminars are always much appreciated by ABIE members, and 38 members and guests attended the event which was followed by a cocktail at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel.