HSBC chief says climate change comments don’t reflect bank’s views

LONDON: HSBC Holdings Plc chief executive officer Noel Quinn (pic) says an executive’s remarks playing down the risk of climate change are “inconsistent” with the bank’s strategy and don’t reflect views of senior management.

“Our ambition is to be the leading bank supporting the global economy in the transition to net zero,” he said in a post on LinkedIn.

“I hope my colleagues, customers and others will all know, from our work and my public comments, that HSBC is absolutely committed to a net-zero future. Given our global reach and capabilities we have an obligation to lead.”

Quinn was responding to remarks by Stuart Kirk, the head of responsible investment at the bank’s asset management unit, who criticised the bank for paying too much attention to climate and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues at a conference on moral investing.

“Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about,” Kirk said in a 15-minute presentation at the Financial Times conference. “There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world.”

Kirk, who’s responsible for integrating ESG risks and opportunities across asset classes at HSBC Asset Management, also took aim at former Bank of England governor Mark Carney and other policy makers for talking up the risk from climate change.

“I completely get that at the end of your central bank career there are still many, many years to fill in,” he said. “You’ve got to say something, you’ve got to fly around the world to conferences, you’ve got to out-hyperbole the next guy. But I feel like it is getting a little bit out of hand.” — Bloomberg

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