HSBC are notorious for money laundering, price fixing, tax evasion, subprime lending and corruption. With our Divest campaign we exposed their investments in fossil fuels, the most of any UK bank!
Now we’ve dug deeper and discovered an even dirtier secret. As we reveal in our introductory blog post, HSBC are addicted to coal.
Between 2005 and April 2014, HSBC ploughed a staggering $8 billion into coal internationally. This is part of a dangerous trend which sees global banks forcing us deeper into climate crisis by propping up the ailing coal industry, to the tune of almost $100 billion a year. It’s time they quit.
All fossil fuels need to go, but coal stands out as the single greatest contributor to the climate crisis. We need to leave more than 80% of coal in the ground for even a chance at a just and liveable world.
The impending collapse of the carbon bubble, coupled with a burgeoning renewables sector, has sent the coal industry into terminal decline. Even HSBC admits that it is ‘coal assets which face the greatest regulatory risk’ of becoming stranded. Coal has had its day.
Through its support for coal extraction, HSBC is complicit in human and environmental disaster. They’ve financed the carve-up of Colombia’s coal reserves between global north corporations, funded the detonation of US mountaintops, and backed controversial companies from the UK to Indonesia.
On the ground, these investments translate as the displacement of indigenous peoples and other frontline communities, human rights violations, the intimidation of union leaders and land defenders, police repression, unbreathable air, water pollution, and the devastation of ecosystems. These are not past grievances, but are happening in the here and now, aided and abetted by HSBC’s money.
Big banks like HSBC are constantly embroiled in scandal with little or no consequence. They are considered too big to fail and thus allowed to continue their nefarious activities unchecked. But if we pool our resources and employ a diversity of tactics, we can beat them!
In fact, public pressure has already succeeded in forcing some banks to significantly limit lending to coal mining companies. Even RBS, who only recently promoted themselves as the ‘oil & gas bank’, are ending funding for pure play coal miners. Banks like the Co-operative have committed to avoid coal entirely by signing the Paris Pledge. By failing to move on mining, HSBC risks being left in the dust.
HSBC’s current Metals and Mining Sector policy is hopeless, paying lip service to ‘sustainable development’ but making no mention of coal. So here’s the important part: they’re writing a new one right now! This is our chance to intervene, by demanding that HSBC kicks the habit and cuts ties with coal mining companies once and for all. But we need to act quickly.
NB. If nothing appears here, head to our minisite to email HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver!