Britain’s HSBC toughened its climate commitments and pledged greater openness about its progress. This is after pressure from activists who said that they would now withdraw a resolution slated for its next shareholder meeting. HSBC said that it would cut financing to the fossil fuel industry in line with the goal of capping global warming at 1.5° Celsius. This is above the pre-industrial average. Then from next year it would publish details of how it is implementing its goals.
HSBC has come under intense investor pressure. They also said that it will publish wider sector-specific data on how its clients are cutting carbon emissions. A group of investors coordinated by responsible investment NGO Share Action said that as a result they were withdrawing a resolution calling on HSBC to close loopholes in its policy. ShareAction Chief Executive Catherine Howarth, citing the fossil fuel financing and pledge to update the bank’s fossil fuel policies stated that today’s commitments are an important step for HSBC that showcase the impact of shareholder engagement.
Scientists warn of irreparable damage if the world fails to hit its climate target. HSBC responded this year by saying that it would assess all its policies to reflect best practice, including on oil and gas, the Arctic and the Amazon. Howarth said that as Europe’s largest provider of financing to top oil and gas expanders, HSBC must act decisively. HSBC said in February that it aimed to cut emissions associated with loans made to its oil and gas clients by 34% this decade. Also, they would set targets for its capital markets financing. HSBC bank’s sustainability chief Celine Herweijer told that as a part of the Climate Transition Plan to be published in 2023, HSBC would more closely link the targets to executive pay.