HSBC responds to our Divest! campaign

June 2, 2015



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Last week HSBC became the latest big bank to respond to our Divest! campaign, which calls for Britain’s biggest banks to disclose their investments in fossil fuels and commit to divest from them – or risk losing their customers.

We’d already received responses from RBS, Lloyds, and Barclays (which you can read by following the links). Faced with criticism and a customer backlash over fossil fuel funding, the UK’s biggest banks are moving to assert their climate credentials.

This shows that the campaign is working, and the big banks are worried that they’ve been found out on fossil fuel funding. Help us keep the pressure up, by putting your bank on notice now and sharing with your friends and family.

You can read what HSBC had to say to us below, as well as reading our response to them linked here.


Thank you for your email addressed to Simon Martin concerning HSBC’s approach to the fossil fuels sector.

We take seriously the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, and were one of the first banks to act decisively to impose restrictions on the financing of the most carbon intensive projects and clients. Our approach to doing this is through our sustainability risk policies. 

Since 2006, HSBC has had an Energy Sector Policy which recognises the link between the energy sector and climate change. In 2010 we included standards on Coal Fired Power Plants, which make the greatest contribution to climate change. This was one of the first policies developed by any bank restricting financing to Coal Fired Power Plants, and excludes the least efficient plants based on the analysis of their carbon intensity. We require challenging standards for developing countries and even higher standards for developed countries.

Additionally, another carbon intensive industry is covered by our policies: our Forestry Policy states that we do not finance conversion of natural forest for plantations. The Energy and Forestry policies are both available on our website at

But we also recognise that the shift to a low carbon economy will take time and that fossil fuels will be an important part of the global energy mix for the foreseeable future

To support the shift to a low carbon economy, HSBC established a Climate Business Council in 2010 to ensure that the significant opportunities offered by climate business are realised. More information is available in our Strategic Report 2014 (pages 36-38) and further information for 2014 is available on our website.

 At HSBC, we know how important it is that banks, corporations and other organisations play a positive role in the economies and communities we serve. We are defined and judged by our behaviour towards and within these communities. We believe that a corporation which adopts ethical, sustainable and responsible values secures the confidence of investors, customers and employees and will be more successful in the long term by balancing social, environmental and economic considerations.

I hope this goes some way to assure you that HSBC takes climate change seriously.

Kind regards

Brendan McNamara
Corporate Communications

Whilst we’re pleased that HSBC are engaging on climate change, we feel that their response doesn’t go anywhere near far enough, let alone addressing the specific points raised by our supporters directly to the bank.

You can read our full response to HSBC here.



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