HSBC reveals new net-zero measures after shareholder backlash

HSBC has announced new measures to achieve its net-zero ambitions after the bank faced backlash from activists and investors.

In February, ShareAction – the charity promoting responsible investment – alongside 11 institutional investors and retail shareholders, filed a resolution calling on the bank to close its fossil fuel policy loophole.

The resolution has now been withdrawn, following the bank's new pledges.

HSBC said it would publish a bank-wide climate transition plan next year, which will explain for the first time – in one place – how HSBC will implement its net zero strategy.

It added that it would commit to phasing down its financing of fossil fuels to what is required to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Later this year, it also plans to undertake a review of and update its wider financing and investment policies that are critical to achieving net zero by 2050.

“HSBC understands that the sudden energy crisis that the world finds itself in will necessitate actions in the short-term around energy security," said group chief sustainability officer, Dr Celine Herweijer. "Our clients, like us, are operating in this new reality, but the longer-term imperative over the coming decades to transform business models for a net zero future remains unchanged.

"If anything, the current crisis should galvanise the need to supercharge investment into the clean energy transition.”

The shareholder coalition said would take further action next year if it is unsatisfied with the bank’s implementation of its new commitments.

“Today’s commitments are an important step for HSBC that showcase the impact of shareholder engagement," said Catherine Howarth, chief executive, ShareAction. "The focus must now be on ensuring that these are implemented in a way that is robust and science-based.

"As Europe’s largest provider of financing to top oil and gas expanders, HSBC must act decisively.”

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