HSBC speaks climate. We listen.

It is always important what is being said and who is saying it

So when HSBC says the following, it is time to listen.

Doubts about science have been replaced by the realities of extreme events and rising commodity prices.

While we do listen, we can ask always ask questions. We can always ask: who was it that replaced the ‘doubts’ with the ‘extreme events’? Where did all this talk of “extreme events” come from?

On usual days, you can see HSBC playing silly games. In October they said that Australia was ” out of kilter with global opinion” on global warming, and now we learn, that the United States is a “significant outlier”  in climate change policy. One wonders if this is true of every country HSBC could bring itself to study.

Mostly however, HSBC is famous for producing glossy and colourful reports full of amazing climate facts. Take a look at a chart from one of their reports released in 2009: Too close for comfort: The HSBC Climate Vulnerability Assessment – mapping risks for the G-20 in 2020.

HSBC: Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035

Pretty amazing right? I always thought the smart people became doctors, lawyers or engineers, the slightly smarter people became scientists, but the really smart people became investment bankers and holders of stock. I am not so sure anymore.

But I would still have great fear and respect for what they say. If they say that the doubts about the science of global warming has been replaced by the fear and concern of ‘extreme events’, I will believe them. There are many things that can be done in the world.



  1. hro001

    Oh, boy! Just what we need yet another banking institution following the pied piper (Stern) and jumping on the bandwagon.

    I’m not sure who might be the richest players – Big Oil or Big Banks, although I suspect the latter – but it certainly goes some way towards explaining the “teflon” characteristic of the AGW, ACC, DCC, [rebranded flavour of the week] does it not?!

    If I were inclined to believe in the conspiracy theory of history, I might conclude that Big Banks would lose a onehellofalot if the CO2->AGW hypothesis falls from political favour!

  2. Shub Niggurath

    There is no doubt that at least HSBC is ‘invested’ in the idea that climate change legislation, if not climate change itself, will provide for business opportunities.

    This is a peculiar form of intellectual bankruptcy. Organizations are generally well-adapted to survive and prosper in stable, liberal regulative atmospheres. Clearly they will be affected negatively by future regimes of increased taxation and superfluous increase in expenses, if they are ill-prepared to pay for these extra costs. Being forced to set aside money for ‘carbon’ certainly falls in this category. This is especially true if organizations wallow in a relaxed financial regulatory past, making good money, unprepared for abrupt future changes being brought on by social-political trends.

    Because what banks, financial institutions and industry in general hate the most are: (1) lack of control over their sociologic and technologic circumstances (2) abruptness of socio-political upheavals impacting on regulatory regimes they are subject to, their instincts are to seize control of these two aspects.

    In an apparent paradox therefore, this leads to corporations and institutions actively supporting causes that are fundamentally harmful to business in general, and accelerating harmful legislation, just so they can ‘get it over with’. It does seem that a desire to remove organizational anxiety can become as powerful as the profit motive itself. Secondly, massive corporations like HSBC aim to be ‘best adapted’ to future change and contribute actively to causing such change themselves!

    That it is inescapably counterproductive in the long-term seemingly does not bother anyone. None of the carbon control mechanisms are going to achieve their primary objective, no one in society will accrue any benefits from such nonsense. Pure costs imposed on society with no benefits will hurt banks in the long run, no? After all, they are filling their coffers with cash earned from the productivity of citizens.