Tuesday, 5 July, 2022

HSBC suspends banker over climate comments: reports

LONDON: HSBC bank has suspended its head of responsible investing after he hit out at climate change warnings during a recent presentation, media reported Monday.

The London-headquartered bank has suspended Stuart Kirk while HSBC investigates the incident first reported by the Financial Times, reports AFP.

Kirk reportedly told a conference held in the British capital last week that there is "always some nut job telling me about the end of the world" and is said to have showed slides stating that "unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong".

In the presentation, entitled "Why investors need not worry about climate risk", he is said to have accused officials at the United Nations and the Bank of England of overstating the financial risks of climate change.

"Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that's a really nice place," Kirk is reported to have told the Financial Times' Moral Money conference.

While HSBC would not confirm whether Kirk had been suspended, HSBC chief executive Noel Quinn posted on LinkedIn that the comments were "inconsistent with HSBC's strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management".

"Our ambition is to be the leading bank supporting the global economy in the transition to net zero."

HSBC and its peers have come under fierce pressure from activist groups over their continued funding of projects deemed harmful to the environment, such as fossil fuel exploration.

Regarding HSBC, "investors and customers should rightly question and scrutinise the bank's promises on climate, including its upcoming oil and gas policy", Beau O'Sullivan, senior campaigner at activist group Bank on our Future, said in a statement.