Climate commitment: doubts are mounting about the sincerity of financial institutions

Climate commitment: doubts are mounting about the sincerity of financial institutions


On the occasion of the Moral Money Summit Europe conference held on 18 and 19 May FinancialTimes, one of the leaders of the HSBC group launched a presentation entitled “Why investors should not be afraid of climate risks”. Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investment in HSBC’s asset management division, has accused central bankers and politicians of exaggerating the effects of climate change. “What does it matter if Miami is 20 feet underwater in a hundred years?”he declared. Amsterdam has been under water for ages and it is a very nice place. We will adapt. »

The head of the banking giant Noel Quinn stated in a post published on the LinkedIn network, “I don’t agree at all” with these notes. “Our ambition is to be the leading bank at the forefront of the transition to carbon neutrality”, assured. Stuart Kirk was suspended.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers Climate change, a major risk for banks

The episode caused deep unrest. “The fact that it comes from the global director of responsible investment is freezing.”, responded Veronica Oakeshott, spokeswoman for Global Witness. While financial institutions play a key role in the fight against climate change, as coal, oil and gas projects cannot be financed without them, most of them continue to move slowly if they do not back down.

Lack of ambition

BlackRock raised hopes by announcing in January 2020 that climate risk would now undermine its investment policy. However, in February 2022, the world’s leading asset manager sent several friendly messages to the oil and gas industry in Texas (southern United States), where new legislation requires the state auditor to compile a list of financial companies that are boycotting fossil fuel companies.

Also read: Climate change: BlackRock is taking a step back

Affiliated companies could then be denied access to state pension funds. BlackRock also said in a letter to Texas officials quoted by Reuters that as a large, long-term investor in fossil fuel companies, it wants to “See how these companies succeed and prosper”. A few weeks later, on May 10, BlackRock announced that it was going to reduce its support for resolutions held by “pro-climate” shareholders this season, especially because of the war in Ukraine.

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