HSBC pushes to fire banker who discredited climate crisis warnings | HSBC

HSBC is under pressure to sack a senior responsible investment banker after a speech in which he called climate crisis warnings ‘unfounded’ and ‘strident’, shed light on flood risks majors and complained about having to spend time “looking at something that’s going to happen in 20 or 30 years”.

The bank has since been forced to speak out against remarks made by Stuart Kirk at a conference in London on Thursday, after he delivered a speech titled ‘Why investors don’t need to worry about climate risk’, which appeared to discredit efforts to sound the alarm on global warming.

“I feel like it’s getting a bit out of hand, the constant reminder that we’re doomed,” Kirk told attendees of the FT’s Moral Money conference, where he also presented slides that read: “Unsubstantiated, strident, partisan, selfish, doomsday warnings are ALWAYS wrong.

“Human beings have been fantastic at adapting to change, adapting to climate emergencies, and we will continue to do so. Who cares if Miami is six meters under water in 100 years? Amsterdam is six meters underwater for ages and it really is a beautiful place.

Kirk’s comments come despite growing concerns over record heatwaves in countries like India, which have become much more likely due to global warming and have led to deaths, crop losses and water shortages. and electricity. Other recent analyzes have shown that devastating floods in South Africa and Europe, heat waves in North America and storms in southeast Africa have been supercharged by the climate crisis.

Kirk, a former editor of the Financial Times’ Lex column, also lamented the resources he said HSBC was allocating to climate risk assessment.

“[In] 25 years in finance, there are always some crazy people talking to me about the end of the world… But what bothers me about this one is the amount of work these people make me do, the amount of regulation that falls in the pipes, the number of people in my team and at HSBC facing financial risks related to climate change, ”said the banker.

Kirk, who was head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management for 11 months, added that these risks were “heresy”.

“I work at a bank that is under crypto attack. We have regulators in the United States trying to stop us. We have the China problem. We have a housing crisis looming. interest going up. We have inflation in the pipe and I’m being told to spend time… looking at something that’s going to happen 20 or 30 years from now. So proportionality is completely out of whack.

Campaigners are urging HSBC to fire the banker. “HSBC should ask Mr Kirk to resign: his comments are inexcusable and completely disregard the impacts of the climate crisis being felt by the South at this time,” said Beau O’Sullivan, head of the Bank on our Future campaign.

“Unfortunately, he’s probably not the only bad apple at HSBC given his track record of funding climate destruction.”

Sign up for the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

An HSBC spokesperson declined to say whether Kirk had been disciplined or faced losing his job as a result of the presentation, saying they would not comment on individual employees. The spokesperson also declined to confirm whether anyone else at the bank had seen or signed his speech or slides prior to the event.

HSBC Asset Management chief executive Nicolas Moreau said in a statement that Kirk’s remarks “in no way reflect the views of HSBC Asset Management or the HSBC Group”, and reiterated the bank’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

“HSBC views climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet and is committed to supporting its customers in their transition to zero emissions and a sustainable future.”

Kirk has been contacted for comment.

Comments are closed.