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Published on 8 May 2019

Hundreds of you have now called on HSBC to make the Big Shift away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy by writing and delivering letters to your local branch. Thank you for the action you have taken so far.

If you’ve received a response from HSBC, it’s probably their standard reply. They’re likely to be hoping this is the end of your communication with them. But they haven’t fully addressed the questions you asked about their support for fossil fuels. You can keep up the pressure by sending a response.

We’ve reviewed their standard reply letter and come up with some points you could raise in your response:

  • Acknowledge the positive steps HSBC has taken to reduce carbon but highlight their continuing, and very significant, investment in coal and other fossil fuels. Press on the need for more urgency reflecting new science which has been released since HSBC last updated their energy policy. Explain how, ultimately, the bank is still a net contributor to climate change, thereby undermining the positive investments they are making through lending to renewable energy and other sustainable projects.
  • Welcome HSBC’s explicit acknowledgement that climate change is a problem and that the burning of fossil fuels is one of the biggest contributors. Suggest that as this is known, surely HSBC needs to act accordingly: we need a 45% carbon dioxide reduction globally by 2030. That means no expansion of fossil fuels.
  • Acknowledge that while HSBC may not technically have any ‘live’ plans to  finance  new coal power in the three countries excluded from their coal prohibition policy (Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh), explain that the bank is still supporting coal in these countries and globally through its refinancing of existing coal power projects, its general loans to the world’s largest coal companies, and its finance of infrastructure projects linked to the expansion of coal power (for example, the enlargement of a port in Bangladesh to handle coal deliveries). These arrangements are prolonging the use of dirty coal power around the world and show scant regard for scientists’ warnings.
  • If the letter you received from HSBC mentions that their current coal policy for Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam is compatible with these countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) made under the Paris Agreement, remind HSBC that taken together, the NDCs don’t currently keep us on track for keeping global warming to within 1.5 degrees. Therefore, the onus is on rich countries and private companies like HSBC to support and encourage developing countries to come up with more ambitious NDCs. HSBC can do this by offering to invest in renewable energy in these countries, not coal.
  • Welcome the progress HSBC has made in reducing emissions from their bank branches and offices, but point out that these emissions are a fraction of the carbon emissions that results from the money that HSBC lends and invests in projects. That’s why HSBC needs to focus on is its role in cutting the emissions resulting from its loans by no longer lending to fossil fuel companies and projects.

Happy writing! If you have any further questions, please get in touch with the campaigns team by emailing