Back in March, HSBC announced a partial ban on financing new coal plants in response to mounting pressure from activists and campaigners. But its policy still permits the financing of coal plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam until 2023. This even though all three countries are on the front line of climate change and have significant renewable energy potential – potential that could be harnessed to sustainably fight poverty. Coal can’t do that.
While the rest of the world is embracing the benefits of clean and affordable renewable energy, HSBC wants to lock these countries into dirty, dangerous and expensive fossil fuel infrastructure that is already outdated now and will be antiquated in a few years. The European Union’s largest bank cannot fund clean tech in developed countries and then force the people of Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam to breathe sulphur dioxide and smog. It’s an insulting double standard. And it’s counter-productive for the climate.
The long-term costs to local communities will pile up for decades if this obsolete technology continues to be developed. Meanwhile, a string of proposed renewable energy projects on the table in all three countries remain under-funded. HSBC claims to support the goals of the Paris Agreement, yet it threatens our very future by funding the expansion of coal-burning power plants in Asia.
They still have a chance to right this wrong. HSBC needs to fix its coal policy: that means no exemptions. And it must stop financing fossil fuels all together. The IPCC report has now made it unquestionable: there is no more room anywhere on this planet for more fossil fuel infrastructure.
HSBC has stated that coal is necessary to improve life in financially poor countries. This is simply not true. Coal will only make crazy weather patterns rattling the region today worse, and blanket local populations with air pollution. For people without access to energy in these countries living far from the grid, renewables offer a much cheaper, less damaging and future-proof form of electricity.
HSBC has changed before, with its March announcement, and it can change again. Given its size and influence, it can serve as a leader to other banks – rather than sending the signal that this double standard is acceptable.
You can help. Sign the petition to push HSBC to fix it’s coal policy.