In defence of the gaffe-prone CEO

When did we decide our leaders always had to toe the corporate line?

by Robert Jeffery

The contest for the year’s best business story was unofficially over in May. That's when Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investing at the asset management division of HSBC, took to the stage at the Financial Times Moral Money Summit in London to tell his assembled audience of bankers and investors that climate change was, essentially, a load of nonsense.

Comparing the current concern over sustainability to the Y2K bug, he railed against the fact there was always “some nut job telling me about the end of the world” and suggested markets should carry on regardless.

It seems logical to assume Kirk had been caught off guard or perhaps had enjoyed a well-lubricated lunch prior to his speaking assignment. But no. The title of his talk – “Why investors need not worry about climate risk” – had been on the event website for months, and he accompanied it with a range of slides decrying climate change campaigners as “shrill”, “partisan” and “self-serving”.

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