A spoofed HSBC advert on a bus stop

The climate resolution put forward at this year’s AGM is a good start, and your plan to end coal financing by 2040 is promising. But you still have a lot more to do before you can claim to be fully aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.


Net zero means action now. Not in 2040 or 2050, it needs to start today.


Just last week the International Energy Agency, the leader in global energy policy and data, published a roadmap for net zero by 2050. CEO and leading economist Fatih Birol said “there can be no new investments in oil, coal and gas from now – this year”.

They are saying what many others, including your investors, have been saying for many years: there is no future in fossil fuels.


So while your current proposals are encouraging, there’s still so much more to do. This includes a solid plan to show how HSBC will end support for coal, oil and gas – as the IEA has said, investments in expanding fossil fuels need to end now. And you’ll need to make your plans universal, so it encompasses your asset management arm as well.


Research from Market Forces and the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air recently revealed that HSBC has stakes in companies planning over 70 new coal power plants via its asset management arm. These plants will cause health problems and deaths across Asia and Africa for decades to come – an estimated 18,700 deaths from air pollution every year and health costs running into billions.


You may not be directly financing these projects, but you’re still investing in companies expanding their coal operations.


A group of concerned shareholders had put forward their own climate resolution, but withdrew it when you put forward your own. Those shareholders have promised to come back next year with another resolution if they feel you haven’t done enough this year. And there will still be pressure from the wider climate finance movement for HSBC to produce and deliver on a comprehensive climate plan.


So if the climate resolution passes at Friday’s meeting, it will only be a step along the way to seeing HSBC truly remove itself from fossil fuel financing.