HSBC is facing pressure from investors to stop lending to fossil fuel companies, starting with those in the highly polluting coal sector.
Fifteen institutional investors and 117 individual investors have backed a shareholder resolution calling for HSBC to set clear targets on reducing financing for fossil fuel companies and projects. The resolution, which was coordinated by climate change activist group ShareAction, calls on the bank to set out a clear strategy in-line with the international Paris climate agreement.
Signatories of the HSBC resolution include Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, and Man Group (EMG.L), the world’s biggest publicly traded hedge fund. The institutions backing the resolution manage a collective $2.4tn (£1.7tn), according to Share Action.
“Engaging with companies on the energy transition and decarbonisation of their activities is one of our key priorities,” said Caroline Le Meaux, head of ESG research, voting and engagement at Amundi.
“Phase out from coal is paramount to achieve this goal, and we believe that the adoption of climate strategies by companies is a critical factor of investment of which shareholders should be fully informed.”
HSBC investors will get the chance to vote on the resolution at April’s AGM. It requires 75% of investors to back it to force change at the company.
“Investors have come to realise that we need rather urgent action,” Anders Schelde, chief investment officer of AkademikerPension, told Yahoo Finance UK.
AkademikerPension manages the retirement funds of Denmark’s higher education teachers and has around DNKr 137bn (£16.6bn, $19bn) in assets under management. The fund has about £2m invested in HSBC and is one of the signatories to the ShareAction resolution.
“For us the climate crisis is very high up the agenda,” Schelde said. “The burning issue is we need an urgent phase down of coal.”