As part of its commitment to helping the UK government achieve its carbon-free goal by 2050, HSBC, the most prominent European bank with almost 3 trillion dollars in assets, won’t finance new oil or gas fields. HSBC made its decision after consulting “leading scientific and international bodies.”
The British bank committed to investing $1 trillion in sustainable energy sources by 2020. However, last year, eco-activists criticized the bank after it was revealed that it had invested $8.7 billion in new oil and gas projects.
Make My Money Matter CEO Tony Burdon praised the move: “It’s another nail in the coffin for fossil fuel expansion and a massive signal to other UK banks that the game is up on new oil and gas.”
🚨BREAKING 🚨 @HSBC just announced that they’re going to stop lending money to any new oil and gas projects. This is huge. And it’s only happening due to pressure from thousands of people across the climate movement and beyond. Here’s why it’s important🧵1/8 pic.twitter.com/F7iVzDcCL6
— Bank On Our Future (@bankonourfuture) December 14, 2022
HSBC has been a critical figure in incorporating environmental, social, and corporate governance scores — known as ESG. But financial investments have been incentivized to take into account social and political positions that do not necessarily benefit their businesses, such as climate goals or diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements.
According to the bank, its ESG commitment is “powering new solutions to the climate crisis and supporting the transition to a low-carbon future. We are building an inclusive organization that prioritizes well-being, invests in learning and careers, and prepares our colleagues for the future of work. And we uphold high standards of corporate governance and ensure we meet our responsibilities to society.”
During a massive energy crisis, the bank was criticized for cutting off all new oil and gas projects. In part, that’s because European governments are pursuing supposedly green energy instead of relying on reliable fossil fuels, leaving their countries dependent on authoritarian leaders in the Middle East and Moscow.
Brexit leader Nigel Farage mocked HSBC’s announcement, saying, “They are so virtuous and so wonderful.” He said the bank’s decision was “another act of self-inflicted lunacy on the United Kingdom” and cited the need for jobs, tax money, and the fact that the country will have to buy oil and gas from elsewhere regardless of the change.
HSBC has also been criticized for its close association with Communist China, the world’s largest polluter.