Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have warned HSBC not to forget about their legal commitments to climate change as the bank decides whether to support a major climate resolution.
The resolution which was filed by ShareAction last month, calls on the bank to consider scaling back its exposure to fossil fuel assets in line with the timeline set out by the Paris climate agreement.
As a customer of HSBC, ClientEarth has said that they strongly support the resolution.
In a letter to the bank, ClientEarth has urged board members to recommend investors vote in its favour, emphasising the reputational, legal and financial risks of not taking progressive action on climate change.
The bank recently announced its ambitions to be aligned with the Paris Agreement goal to be net-zero by 2050.
But as Europe’s second-largest fossil fuel financier, providing more than $86.5bn in lending and underwriting since the Paris Agreement, ClientEarth lawyers have questioned the credibility of these statements.
ClientEarth lawyer Jamie Sawyer said: ‘It is not enough to declare net-zero ambitions; HSBC must explain how they will achieve them. The directors have both legal and moral duties to consider the bank’s impact on the environment and mitigate the risks of climate change.
‘Inaction will not only jeopardise HSBC’s own financial health, but will exacerbate the systemic impacts the crisis will inflict on the entire economy. We urge board members to show real leadership in responding to the climate emergency and support the resolution.”
‘Around the world, governments, investors, businesses and the public are rapidly raising their ambitions on climate action – HSBC’s response falls below the benchmark. If it is serious about transitioning to net zero emissions then it must move quickly to address the current gap and implement a Paris-aligned strategy supported by targets in line with emerging market practice.’
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