Investors with combined assets of $2.4 trillion under management have filed a climate change resolution at HSBC, alongside 117 individual shareholders.

The resolution, co-ordinated by responsible investment ShareAction, calls on HSBC to publish a strategy and targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets, starting with coal, on a timeline consistent with the Paris climate goals.

Signees included Europe’s largest asset manager Amundi, Brunel Pensions Partnership and hedge fund Man Group.

HSBC is Europe’s second largest financier of fossil fuels, after Barclays, according to the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). RAN found it had provided $87 billion to some of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies since the signing of the Paris Agreement.

In October 2020, HSBC announced an ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050 at the latest, an important move given the bank’s strong exposure to Asia.

Analysis by ShareAction showed that in the four months leading up to its announcement, the bank pumped an additional US$1.8 billion into fossil fuel companies, including those constructing new infrastructure for coal and tar sands.

Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at ShareAction, said: “The message from the resolution is clear: net zero ambitions by top fossil fuel financiers are simply not credible if they fail to be backed up by fossil fuel phase out plans.”

If the resolution receives more than 75% of the votes at HSBC’s annual general meeting in April 2021, it would require the bank to publish a strategy and short-, medium- and long-term targets to reduce its exposure to fossil fuel assets on a timeline aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The resolution follows ShareAction’s climate resolution at Barclays last year, which led to the lender Barclays tabling its own and becoming the first mainstream bank to commit to net zero by 2050 at the latest.


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Published: February 1, 2021
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