HSBC will target net zero carbon emissions across its entire customer base by 2050 at the latest, and provide between $750 billion and $1 trillion in financing to help clients make the transition.
In the strongest statement by Europe’s biggest bank on climate change to date, its CEO outlined HSBC’s ambitions to align its activities with the Paris Agreement.
HSBC aims to achieve net zero in its own operations by 2030, he added.
While other UK banks such as NatWest have already set similar net-zero goals, HSBC’s aim to achieve it across its huge Asia-focused client base is one of the most significant pledges made by a global lender to date.
They have come under increasing pressure from activists, shareholders and politicians who say it is contributing to climate change by financing fossil fuel and other environmentally harmful projects.
Critics have said HSBC lagged peers in responding to the climate challenge and risked losing out to rivals such as BNP Paribas that are ahead on setting carbon reduction targets.
So, the bank will be closely watched for how quickly and fully it pursues its new goals, which are mainly stated as ‘aims’ rather than hard commitments.
It will also face scrutiny on whether it has allowed itself leeway to continue financing some fossil fuel-linked clients, especially in developing markets.
The bank said it would apply “a climate lens” to financing decisions and would also continue to take into account “the unique conditions for our clients across developed and developing economies”.
This week, Wall Street heavyweight JPMorgan became the latest bank to expand investment in clean energy and work towards net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris climate pact.
Reference- Reuters, BloombergNEF, Economic Times, Financial Times