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HSBC pledges to go carbon neutral by 2050

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·3-min read
A Swiss International aircraft flies past the HSBC headquarters building in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London February 15, 2015. HSBC apologised to customers and investors on Sunday for past practices at its Swiss private bank after allegations that it helped hundreds of clients to dodge taxes. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS CRIME LAW TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
A Swiss International aircraft flies past the HSBC headquarters building in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London. Photo: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

HSBC (HSBA.L) has pledged to make all its operations carbon neutral by 2030 and make all its lending activities environmentally neutral by 2050.

The bank said on Friday it would make its operations and supply chain neutral on carbon emissions within the next 10 years. It will also align its lending and financing activities with the goals of the 2015 UN Paris Climate Agreement by 2050.

HSBC said it would help customers transition to carbon neutral business activities, pledging between $750bn (£579bn) and $1tn in financing for this push over the next decade.

READ MORE: Barclays among first banks to sign up to 'net zero' financing pledge

“HSBC has long been committed to opening up opportunities for our customers and the communities we serve,” chief executive Noel Quinn said in a statement.

“As we enter a pivotal decade of change, we have a landmark opportunity to accelerate our efforts to build a healthier, more resilient and more sustainable future. Our net zero ambition represents a material step up in our support for customers as we collectively work towards building a thriving low carbon economy.”

HSBC plans to set up a $100m fund to lend to startups in the “Clean Tech” field and said it would donate $100m to projects developing scalable and viable climate solutions.

The bank pledged to make regular disclosures on its progress to meeting its new carbon neutral goal.

READ MORE: Barclays caves to investor pressure and pledges to go carbon neutral

HSBC’s pledge follows a similar commitment by Barclays in March. Pressure has been mounting on the banking sector to stop financing activities which are harmful to the environment, such as coal power projects.

A report in March compiled by climate change activist groups found that HSBC had provided over $86bn of financing to companies involved in fossil fuels since 2015 when the Paris Agreement was signed. HSBC ranked 12th in the world for fossil fuel financing, according to the report.

Jeanne Martin, a senior campaign manager at ShareAction, a charity promoting responsible investment, welcomed HSBC’s pledge and said it was “quickly becoming the baseline in the banking industry”. However, Martin called for more details.

READ MORE: Bank of England told to 'put its money where its mouth is' on climate change

“We urge HSBC to commit to a global coal phase out and take immediate steps to curb its fossil fuel financing,” she said.

Becky Jarvis, coordinator of Fund Our Future UK, a network of campaign groups, said: “HSBC’s net-zero commitment is a bit like saying you’ll give up smoking by 2050, but continuing to buy a pack a week, or even smoking more.

“Any further financing of oil, gas, and coal expansion today is utterly at odds with a net-zero commitment by 2050.”

Watch: Greens cast doubt on HSBC's zero carbon pledge