At 10:30am this morning, around fifty protesters descended on HSBC’s annual general meeting at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham to call out the bank’s shameful climate policies. It comes as the bank announces soaring quarterly profits of $12.9 billion.
Members of Extinction Rebellion Midlands and Money Rebellion arrived with a bath of greenwash, while a group of ‘dirty scrubbers’ dressed in pinafores and headscarves offered to clean up the bank’s soiled image in return for cash.
Inside the conference centre protesters brought the AGM to a standstill as they unfurled banners, sang songs, the dirty scrubbers reappeared with dramatic skits, and people repeatedly called out HSBC’s broken promises over its climate pledges, accusing them of ‘climate genocide’ and ‘lies’. Security eventually removed protesters after 45 minutes of disruption.
HSBC has invested $145bn in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement in 2016 and the bank’s climate pledges have been tarnished by a series of damaging exposes.
In December, HSBC made a surprise announcement that it was updating its energy policy and would stop new investment in oil and gas fields in an apparent change of policy. However, it’s climate pledges to date have been revealed as mere greenwash. in January, it was revealed that HSBC had given energy giant RWE a secret $340m loan as bulldozed a village to expand a coal mine in Germany, just three months after the bank had pledged to stop financing new coal. Last October, investigators showed that HSBC’s $1 trillion investment in ‘sustainable financing’ and ‘green bonds’ was being used by fossil fuel companies to bankroll mines, pipelines, and oil rigs.
Questions have also been raised about the bank’s pledge to stop direct funding of fossil fuel projects, while continuing to indirectly fund fossil fuel companies like Saudi Aramco, ExxonMobil and Shell. The bank is also financially supporting ConocoPhillips, the company behind the controversial Alaskan oil drilling Willow project. Despite its various pledges HSBC invested a total of $11.074b in fossil fuels last year.
Andrew Taylor from Money Rebellion said: “HSBC continues to fund new devastating coal,oil and gas projects. These projects destroy the health and livelihoods of communities who live near them, and are fuelling climate chaos. We will use every tool in the box to stop HSBC and other banks from pursuing this deadly business plan – from disrupting their AGMs to building the biggest bank boycott in history.”