Over the last three years we’ve been campaigning to make the Big Shift: for money and resources to move out of fossil fuels and into renewables. We’ve called for finance controlled by governments, churches and banks to stop funding fossil fuels and instead fund the transition to a cleaner, safer future for us all.
Thanks to your campaigning, the UK government committed to shut down UK coal plants by 2025, over 5,500 churches changed their electricity supplier to 100% renewable and four of the UK’s biggest high street banks made commitments to increase their funding for renewable energy and significantly tighten their restrictions on funding for coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel.
Let’s just reflect on our campaign to HSBC specifically over the past year. Through thousands of emails, letters and visits to HSBC branches across the country, you got their attention.
In fact, your campaigning was so successful, HSBC’s senior management requested a meeting with the Christian Aid Board where we set out our concerns about their climate policies. During the meeting HSBC senior management stated that the bank did not intend to finance new coal power projects in the three countries exempted from its coal power prohibition policy - Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam (something they subsequently confirmed publicly). This was a significant shift from the CEO’s defence of coal power expansion in these countries at the 2018 HSBC AGM.
Meanwhile at this year’s AGM, the Chair of HSBC was so concerned to demonstrate that HSBC was listening to us, that in his response to a question we asked about why the Bank was still financing fossil fuel expansion, he made a point of emphasising to the whole AGM that the Bank was having a constructive dialogue with Christian Aid. It was also noticeable how keen HSBC’s then-CEO John Flint appeared to be to talk to us at length over the lunch immediately after the AGM.
But actions speak louder than words. Despite making these noises, HSBC is not doing enough fast enough, and time is running out. The scientific evidence confirms that the impacts of climate breakdown are happening more quickly and more dangerously than first thought. For the most vulnerable communities, that means the difference between life and death, between having a safe home and losing it, or between thriving and just surviving. We can’t prolong such injustice – we haven’t got time to wait.
Hence while we’ll continue to keep a close eye on the banks themselves, we’re changing our approach to get the action that we need. If the banks won’t change quickly enough, then we believe that government regulation must enforce tighter restrictions. Over the next 18 months there are various opportunities for governments and businesses to make the changes that are needed. Those opportunities will only be seized if people in power feel enough pressure from all of us. Globally we’ll continue to support partners in their campaigning and activism and here in the UK we’ll be stepping up our campaign to call for climate justice.
In summary, the movement still needs you.