HSBC faces AGM pressure over £800bn green finance policies

A coalition of HSBC shareholders will today demand the bank disclose how it intends to allocate the £799 billion ($1 trillion) it has earmarked for green finance by 2030.

A statement will be read out at the HSBC annual general meeting (AGM) on behalf of the HSBC shareholders by ShareAction, an organisation which champions responsible investment.

ShareAction is critical of HSBC’s current lack of transparency on its green policies, saying the lack of clarity makes it impossible for shareholders to determine if the bank is genuinely on the path to net zero and fulfilling its green pledges.

The investor coalition is calling for the HSBC board to set up a renewable energy funding target, which it says is crucial for the net zero transition.

This AGM, taking place at the InterContinental London O2, follows the sudden retirement of HSBC CEO Noel Quinn.

The investor group includes the Ethos Foundation, Epworth Investment Management, Royal London Asset Management, Axiom Alternative Investments, La Francaise Asset Management, Jesuits in Britain and Folksam pension fund.

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In November, ShareAction published an analysis of green finance and reporting from Europe’s largest banks including HSBC. It found that a lack of transparency around sustainable finance claims left banks open to greenwashing accusations.

Earlier this year, HSBC launched its first roadmap to net zero by 2050, which details how the bank aims to finance and support the transition to zero emissions.

It highlights the steps the bank is taking to decarbonise by 2050 and how its supporting high-emitting industries to lower its emissions.

Jeanne Martin, head of banking programme, ShareAction said: “HSBC has set a target of spending up to $1 trillion on sustainable finance by 2030, but investors don’t have enough information about how exactly this will be spent to know if the bank is really on the path to net zero and contributing its fair share of financing to address climate finance gaps.

“The target as it currently stands is too broad and vague. It gives the impression the bank is scaling up its efforts on green finance without demonstrating the difference it will make, or whether it is financing the green activities that are most needed.

“This is why we are calling on the bank to make it clear how its green finance target will be spent across environmental and social themes, with a specific target for renewable energy that demonstrates how it is shifting its financing to support the energy transition.”

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