A top HSBC executive denounced “shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings” about the financial risks of climate change, prompting the Asia-focused bank to distance itself from his views.
Stuart Kirk, HSBC’s head of responsible investing, said that such warnings meant his team and the bank in general are spending a disproportionate amount of time dealing with climate risk, as opposed to other challenges.
“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” Stuart Kirk, HSBC’s head of responsible investing, wrote on a slide accompanying a presentation at a conference organized by the Financial Times in London on Thursday. “We’ve got inflation coming down the pipes and I’m being told to spend time and time again looking at something that’s going to happen in 20 or 30 years, the proportionality is completely out of whack.”
The Financial Times posted a video recording of the event on its website.
Nicolas Moreau, chief executive of HSBC Asset Management, said that Kirk’s remarks did not represent the bank’s views.
“HSBC regards climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet,” Moreau said. HSBC Asset Management oversees some $640 billion in assets, according to the company website.
Remarks ‘Grossly Flawed’
Kirk’s comments drew criticism from activist groups that have campaigned for HSBC and other financial firms to reduce their funding of the fossil fuels industry and toughen their climate pledges.
“This should raise red flags to any clients of HSBC that care about net-zero,” Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at responsible investment NGO Share Action, tweeted.
Beau O’Sullivan, senior campaigner on the Bank on our Future campaign, called the comments “regressive and grossly flawed”, adding climate change posed a material risk to financial assets.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell