A group of powerful HSBC shareholders have written to the bank's CEO, John Flint, urging him to close a loophole in its energy policy that allows the lender to bankroll coal projects in certain emerging markets.
Investment management firms Schroders, EdenTree and stewardship provider Hermes EOS have also called on HSBC to impose a ban on corporate loans, underwriting and advisory services to bank clients that are highly dependent on coal. The letter, which was coordinated by campaign group ShareAction, stresses that HSBC must adopt a “clear, timebound plan” to phase out its existing exposure to the dirty fuel.
HSBC was commended by activist groups including Greenpeace last year after releasing an energy policy that aimed to phase out lending for new coal-fired power plants in high income countries and cut its commitment to oil sands “over time”. But that policy also left a loophole that allows the bank to finance new coal-powered plants in three countries – Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia – until 2023.