HSBC has announced it will stop financing new oil and gas fields, as part of its efforts to drive down global greenhouse gas emissions, following accusations of greenwashing earlier this year.
The shift comes after the UK advertising watchdog banned a series of misleading adverts promoting HSBC’s plans to reduce harmful emissions, which did not acknowledge its own contribution to emissions through the companies they invest in.
According to ShareAction, a charity that campaigns for reducing investment for fossil fuels like oil and gas, Britain’s biggest lender invested an estimated $8.7bn (£6.4bn) into new oil and gas in 2021.
In the update to its energy policy, the bank said the decision had been made “follow[ing] consultation with leading scientific and international bodies” who had estimated that current oil and gas fields would meet any demand in 2050 under a “net zero” scenario.
Jeanne Martin, head of the banking programme at ShareAction, said: “HSBC’s announcement sends a strong signal to fossil fuel giants and governments that banks’ appetite for financing new oil and gas fields is diminishing.”
The charity called on other banks to follow suit – saying this move sets a “a new minimum level of ambition” for the sector.
HSBC follows Lloyds bank, Britain’s biggest domestic bank, which announced a similar decision in October.
Earlier this year, Spains largest bank, Santander also published its new fossil fuel policy, which includes an exclusion of financing for new upstream oil projects and clients (with an exception to allow finance dedicated to renewable energy projects carried out by oil companies). The bank also retained its position in this year’s Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
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