National Australian Bank chair calls leaders “willfully blind” on climate change

Former head of the National Australian Bank Cameron Clyne has taken aim at Australian leaders, calling them “willfully blind” to the issues and realities of climate change. Clyne calls for a dramatic decrease in the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, labeling the status quo “economically reckless”. Clyne wrote in an op-ed to the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday:

Most of our electricity generation is reliant on coal; an overwhelming majority of our transport and a very large percentage of our export industries are reliant on fossil fuels. When you look at this, you would be blind to not see a myriad of looming business risks.

His arguments are somewhat unique in that they leave environmentalism by the wayside, which may make his words more appealing to non-traditional supporters of climate change action, such as fossil fuel companies and shareholders themselves. Clyne predicts massive “shareholder wealth destruction”, which will occur when the demand for oil falls due to increased renewable energy  use worldwide.

Apart from the good it will do for shareholders’ wallets, Clyne also speaks of the potential savings that the government could enjoy by cutting subsidies to fossil fuel companies, making money available for other essential operations and services.

His ending point is also rooted in economics and business. Clyne cites the “oldest reason of all: competition from a better product”. Alternative energy, he says, provides energy to people at a cheaper longterm price point and with far fewer negative side effects.

To sum this all up is a quote from Clyne’s op-ed:

“So you can be as angry as you like with environmentalists and “environmentalism” but from an economic point of view, it still wouldn’t make sense to be so heavily addicted to this polluting business as Australia is…Turning away from the problem will not make the problem go away. It seems some in Australia are willfully blind to these problems and the problems this poses for our nation and its economic and social fabric” [emphasis added]

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