HSBC agrees to coal phase-out

Shareholders at HSBC have backed a management-proposed resolution committing the company to phase out finance for the coal industry by 2030 in the OECD and by 2040 worldwide.

The resolution was tabled by the HSBC board after it came under pressure from a separate climate motion proposed by a $2.4tr group of shareholders led by ShareAction. The shareholders agreed in March to withdraw their resolution and put their support behind HSBC’s proposal.

Part of HSBC’s resolution commits it to “publish by the end of 2021 a policy that will… provide further detail on the phase out plan, its scope and interim targets” and to “engage with ShareAction, representatives of the group of co-filing institutions and other stakeholders in the development of this policy.”

ShareAction is now calling on HSBC to ensure that the bank introduces financing restrictions for companies throughout the coal value chain, including those that are highly dependent on coal and building new coal mines, coal plants and coal infrastructure, and calls on its remaining clients to publish phase out plans by December 2023 at the latest.

HSBC’s resolution commits it to set short and medium-term targets to align all of its financing (beyond the coal sector) with the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement. ShareAction urged investors to continue to engage with HSBC to ensure it sets ambitious targets in line with the latest science.

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