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HSBC To Achieve Net Zero Emissions By 2050, Sets Aside $1 Trln For Green Financing: Reuters

HSBC To Achieve Net Zero Emissions By 2050, Sets Aside $1 Trln For Green Financing: Reuters
A target of achieving net zero carbon emissions across its entire customer base by the year 2050 at the most has been set by HSBC while also providing financing to help clients make the transition to the tune of between $750 billion and $1 trillion, said the bank’s  Chief Executive Noel Quinn in an interview to the news agency Reuters.
This target set by the biggest bank of Europe is its strongest yet on climate change even as the bank was severely criticized by some environmental groups over the company not implementing more immediate measures to bring down its financing for fossil fuel projects.
“COVID has been a wake-up call to us all, including me personally. We have seen how fragile the global economy is to a major event, in this case a health event, and it brings home the reality of what a major climate event could do,” Quinn told Reuters in a video interview.
He added that a target of achieving net zero emissions in its own operations by 2030 has been set by HSBC.
While similar goals for achieving net zero carbon emission have been set by other banks of the United Kingdom such as NatWest, what makes HSBC’s pledge more important is because of the target of the bank to achieve it across its huge Asia-focused client base and is one of the biggest environmental pledges that the company has ever made.
These new goals are mainly stated as aims and not as hard commitments and therefore the actions of the bank will be closely watched for how quickly and fully it puts in efforts to achieve the target. It is expected that there would also be scrutiny of the bank over whether it has given itself any leeway in continuing to fund some fossil fuel-linked clients – particularly those projects in the developing markets.
Activists, shareholders and politicians have imparted increasing criticism on HSBC in recent times over allegations that the bank is a contributor of climate change as it finances projects that are environmentally harmful. 
Te strategy of the bank currently is to focus on expansion of its capital markets-focused carbon transition policies into a much wider one that encompasses all its activities with relation to financing, asset management, and corporate and retail banking, Quinn said.
“What we have given the market is an ambition that our total financing by 2050 will be net zero, that is a far bigger prize or goal than picking a sub-segment of our portfolio and saying ‘I am not going to bank you’ because that’s not what the world needs,” he said.
“That industry or that customer may then just go to Bank X, Bank Y or Bank Z. They won’t have changed their business model.”
Compared to its peers in the area of climate change, HSBC has lagged peers, say its critics, and therefore it faces the potential of loosing out in this aspect to rivals such as BNP Paribas that have already set ambitious carbon targets for themselves.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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