For months HSBC has been telling us to hold 22 February in our diaries. This is the date it was planning to publish its targets for reducing the billions of dollars it is pouring into oil and gas companies, who are fuelling the climate crisis.
That day has come and HSBC has announced its targets not with a bang, but with a whimper. Their policies aren’t strong enough. And it’s more proof that we can’t trust a bank to cut their investments themselves. They MUST be told to do it properly by law.
HSBC’s targets are weak. They’re only aiming to reduce funding to oil and gas companies by 34% by 2030. This is on total emissions (“absolute”) rather than an average (“intensity”), which is a good thing.
However, HSBC is ignoring the bulk of the money it gives out – for example by underwriting of bonds – which ShareAction finds makes up 60% of the money it gives fossil fuel companies. This puts it behind competitor Barclays which is not ignoring things like bonds and underwriting from their targets two years ago.
Jeanne Martin, Senior Campaign Manager at ShareAction, says this “should raise questions about the credibility of [HSBC’s] strategy. We consider this omission to be a breach of the spirit of the agreement that was reached with HSBC, ShareAction and investors in March 2021.” See ShareAction’s full statement here.
NEW: @HSBC's oil and gas policy sets out to con investors by using creative accounting techniques, allowing the bank to keep expanding the fossil fuel industry despite its #NetZero commitment.
Full analysis here 👉 https://t.co/MluiYgpTnq pic.twitter.com/r01hs4KD93
— Market Forces (@market_forces) February 22, 2022
HSBC also disappointingly tip-toed around the idea of asking its clients for transition plans. It provided no details on what it expects from its largest fossil fuel clients Exxon and Saudi Aramco, which have refused for decades to transition, nor any consequences for their non-compliance.
No details are provided on:
* which clients will be asked to provide transition plans
* what these plans must include
* what the consequences will be for clients that provide inadequate plans – i.e. plans that allow for new fossil fuel expansion pic.twitter.com/yFJ6qKEldI
— Jeanne Martin (@JeanneMartin25) February 22, 2022