HSBC to phase out coal funding on shareholder pressure

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp unveiled plans to phase out financing of the coal industry over the next two decades.

The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp today unveiled plans to phase out financing of the coal industry over the next two decades, bowing to shareholder pressure to do more to tackle global warming.

“HSBC today announces it will propose a special resolution on climate change,” the lender said in a statement.

“The resolution will set out the next phase of HSBC’s strategy to support its customers on the transition to net zero carbon emissions.”

The plan, which will see HSBC reduce its exposure to fossil fuels, will be put to a vote at its upcoming annual general meeting on May 28.

Activist group ShareAction claimed victory after HSBC’s board tabled a resolution that commits the company to phase out financing of coal-fired power and thermal coal mining by 2030 in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and by 2040 elsewhere.

ShareAction and other investors have since withdrawn their separate move.

“HSBC’s resolution will be the sole resolution on climate change at this year’s AGM,” the bank added today.

“HSBC is pleased that ShareAction and a number of shareholders who had originally proposed a separate shareholder resolution on climate change, have agreed to withdraw this and support HSBC’s resolution, following constructive and positive discussions based on a common goal of helping to build a net zero global economy.”

It follows months of negotiations, led by ShareAction, between HSBC and a US$2.4-trillion coalition of investors.

“Today’s announcement shows that robust shareholder engagement can deliver concrete results and sets an important precedent for the banking industry,” Jeanne Martin, senior campaign manager at ShareAction, said.

“Net zero ambitions have to be backed up with time-bound fossil fuel phase-outs and today HSBC has taken an important step in that direction.”

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