HSBC is the same financial institution that warned last year of “disruptive” clean energy technologies that could increase the risk of “economically non-viable” fossil fuel reserves becoming stranded assets. In a private report, the bank said investors who hold onto their fossil fuel stocks “may one day be seen to be late movers, on ‘the wrong side of history,’” Newsweek reported at the time.
But in Davos last week, Gulliver “warned of disastrous unintended consequences, in particular for developing countries, if the sector were ostracized, given that it is responsible for a huge numbers of jobs, money for pensions, and tax revenues that fund education and health care,” Huffington Post reports. The time required to scale up renewable energy also means developing countries will need coal for many years to come, he told Forum participants.
“Gulliver admitted that HSBC was coming under pressure from activists to stop funding the fossil fuel industry, both at its annual meeting, as well as throughout the year,” Confino writes. “But he made it clear he was not going to give in to their demands and insisted the company has transparent and responsible policies.”
He added that renewable energy investment will continue despite crashing oil prices. “The public wants to do this,” he said, and “there is enough money in the finance sector to finance this.”