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HSBC makes environmental pledges for fossil fuel funds

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HSBC has published emissions targets that it claims will make it a “net-zero bank” by the middle of this century at the latest.

The business said the targets for its oil and gas and power and utilities portfolios align to International Energy Agency (IEA) pathways, and will help limit global warming within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels.

It plans to reduce the amount of emissions coming from the portfolio of oil and gas sector companies and projects that it supports by 34% by 2030.

In the power and utilities sector it wants to reduce the “emissions intensity” – the amount of carbon per terawatt hour that is produced – by 75% by the same date.

But campaigner Adam McGibbon, at Market Forces, warned that, by moving assets off its own balance sheet, HSBC could meet its targets without reducing financing to the oil and gas sector.

“We have to congratulate HSBC for finding a new and innovative way to fudge their emission reduction targets,” he said.

“This target means HSBC can finance the oil and gas industry to its cold, ashened heart’s content and all it needs to do to meet its target is shift enough of that debt off its balance sheet.

“HSBC clearly not only has contempt for the idea of a stable long-term climate and all who want to keep global warming under control, but also its own investors who the bank expects to fall for this con.”

HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn said: “Partnering and engaging with customers in the transition to net zero is at the heart of our approach.

“We are supporting clients to evolve their business models and replace old technology with new, greener alternatives.

“We will request and review science-based client transition plans and use them as the basis for further engagement.”

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