Central bank policymakers and other global authorities are exaggerating the financial risks of climate change, said a senior HSBC banker in charge of sustainable investments. The bank said his views did not reflect those of HSBC as a whole. Stuart Kirk, HSBC’s head of responsible investing, wrote on a slide accompanying his presentation at a conference in London that unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are always wrong.
Kirk said that such warnings meant his team and HSBC in general are spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with climate risk, as opposed to other challenges. He told in a conference that they have got inflation coming down the pipes and I’m being told to spend time and time again looking at something that’s going to happen in 20 or 30 years.
Moreau stated that HSBC regards climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet. HSBC Asset Management oversees some $640 billion in assets, according to the company website. Kirk’s comments drew criticism from activist groups that have campaigned for HSBC and other financial firms to reduce their funding of the fossil fuels industry and toughen their climate pledges.
Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at responsible investment NGO Share Action, tweeted that this should raise red flags to any clients of HSBC that care about net-zero. Beau O’Sullivan, senior campaigner on the Bank on their Future campaign, called the comments regressive and grossly flawed, adding climate change posed a material risk to financial assets.