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DBS CEO Gupta Ponders If Bankers Should ‘Play God’ Around ESG

  • The bank is trying to balance development and climate needs
  • CEO cites moral dilemmas posed by coal and palm oil industries
Piyush Gupta

Piyush Gupta

Photographer: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg

The head of Southeast Asia’s biggest bank asked whether the finance industry should “play God” when it comes to balancing action on climate change with more immediate social and economic needs in the region. 

“What do you say to kids in Semarang or somewhere in the middle of Indonesia who are struggling to get electricity, to do their studies or eat their food,” DBS Group Holdings Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Piyush Gupta said at Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit in Singapore Wednesday. “For us to say, I’m going to make a moral judgment on electricity use is less important because the planetary considerations are more important -- am I the right person to say that?”