Resetting the conversation on climate

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NAB Chair, Phil Chronican, sat down with The Australian’s Eric Johnston to share his perspective on the bank’s journey to support customers in the transition to net zero emissions and the need to reimagine Australia’s economy in 2050.

“We seemed to be getting caught in a bit of a trap,” reflected Mr Chronican.

“But if you’re truly going to have a transition, certainly to a net-zero world, you’ve actually got to think differently about how the economy operates.

“If we want to change the debate, we have to be more on the front foot in terms of painting a picture of what the world needs to look like.

“It’s actually thinking about what it will take to rebuild an economy,” he said.

Mr Chronican referenced research commissioned by NAB with Deloitte Access Economics to better understand the economic opportunities for Australia in the transition to a low carbon economy. The report, titled All Systems Go, examined the dynamics of investment required; how it will be reprioritised and what will be new investment, out to 2050.

He said the research helped to reframe how Australia is thinking about the challenges – and opportunities – presented by climate change and the role a bank like NAB can play.

“I think there’s a significant positive part to the story, which is about rebuilding a transport network, rebuilding the way that commercial property gets constructed, rebuilding the whole energy generation and distribution system”.

“If you are going to do that, then it takes investment, not just disinvestment.

“The purpose of having this report was an attempt to set and reset the terms of the conversation in the public mind.

“We still have a little work to do to get the general public into the same headspace, though we’ve certainly made significant progress in terms of the professional and investment community,” Chronican says.

NAB’s Chair also acknowledged the steep learning curve for bankers to understand and assess the benefits and risks in new technologies. NAB is working with Melbourne Business School to help develop and deliver targeted climate training for its bankers. The training focuses on identifying climate-related financial risks and transition planning, so that NAB Bankers can better work with customers.

“It’s important that our people understand what the economic and physical attributes of hydrogen are going to be? What are the options for the electricity generation sector? And how quickly can they occur? How do we manage the intermittency of renewables? Do we use storage opportunities like batteries? Or do you need some form of alternative baseload power generation to cover them? These are all technical questions about economic consequences,” Chronican says.

Decarbonisation makes good business sense for our customers.

“Australia is at a critical juncture in its transition to a low-carbon economy. If we get it right, the opportunities are immense in protecting our environment and growing our economy,” he says.

“We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to learn as we go. But the more we get to understand this, the better position we’re going to be in”.

Subscribers to The Australian can access the full article here.

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