Climate change tops the agenda at Bloomberg Business Forum

Climate change tops the agenda at Bloomberg Business Forum
Updated 20 September 2017

Climate change tops the agenda at Bloomberg Business Forum

Climate change tops the agenda at Bloomberg Business Forum

NEW YORK: Climate change dominated the opening stages of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York on Wednesday, as many of the 250 business and political leaders assembled for the event criticized the Trump administration’s stance on the issue.
Michael Bloomberg, the media entrepreneur and former three-time mayor of the city, announced a partnership with the World Bank and the UN to fund urban infrastructure development to take account of accelerating climate change, especially in emerging markets where cities often struggle to get access to funding.
He said: “Cities account for 70 percent of carbon emissions in the world, so they are part of the problem, but they are also big financial centers, so they are part of the solution too. New York has reduced carbon emissions by 20 percent in seven years, and it would have been faster if the city had more access to funding.
“In the developing world, it is even more the case that cities need access to greater funding to fight climate change, but they do not have the credit profile to get that.”
On the main issue of climate change, Bloomberg said that there had been “pushback” from the current White House. “I cannot speak for the current administration, but it’s new and is realizing that these problems are complex, so it gets laughed at. But Trump has done climate change people a great favor because he has galvanized them.”
The City Climate Finance plan is a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, his charitable operation, the World Bank and the UN. It hopes to have definitive plans for climate change investment later this year, the president Jim Kim said.
Other leaders addressed themes including globalization, immigration and inclusion, all of which have been hot topics under the Trump administration.
Former President Bill Clinton said: “We are all well aware that a lot of people feel left out, left behind, alienated politically, socially and economically.”
Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, said that recent moves to change immigration status for the children of illegal immigrants — the so-called “dreamers” — were wrong. “I am personally shocked there was even a discussion,” he said. “This debate goes to the basis of American values. I wish everyone loved America as much as the ‘dreamers.’”
Bloomberg agreed: “They may be here illegally but they have committed no crime. We need this new blood coming into our country.”
Other business leaders spoke of the need to address the problems of “big data” and digital change in the global economy.
Jack Ma, founder and chief executive of Chinese online retailer Ali Baba, said that the digital age should be regarded as an opportunity, not a threat.
“People are worried about big data, but people in history were worried about steam and electricity. But all three have led to an increase in employment.”
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also defended globalization in trade and business.
Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, who is due to sign a trade agreement with the EU, agreed with her that the world needed more such free trade agreements. “We have to … eliminate barriers, but also ensure jobs, gender equality and growth,” he said.
Other speakers pointed to the imbalances in the global financial system.
Arif Naqvi, founder and chief executive officer of Dubai-based private equity group Abraaj, said: “The plumbing of the world financial system is broken. There is $9 trillion of investment value sitting in non-interest bearing assets. There are lots of other investment opportunities being missed in the fast growth markets.”
Larry Fink, chief executive officer of investment group Blackrock, warned against the rise of protectionism and exclusion in the world. “More than 50 per cent of family assets round the world are managed by women. We need more women on our boards.”