HSBC has confirmed it will set aside between $750bn (£579bn) and $1trn (£772bn) in green financing, in a bid to target net zero carbon emissions across its entire customer base by 2050 at the latest.
Speaking to Reuters, CEO Noel Quinn said: “Covid has been a wake-up call to us all, including me personally.
“We have seen how fragile the global economy is to a major event, in this case a health event, and it brings home the reality of what a major climate event could do.”
In addition, Quinn confirmed HSBC aims to achieve net zero emissions in its own operations by 2030.
Reuters noted that HSBC’s aim to achieve this across its largely Asia-focused client base is “one of the most significant pledges made by a global lender to date”.
Nonetheless, HSBC has reportedly been met with criticism from certain environmental groups for “not taking more immediate action to curb its fossil fuel financing”.
The global lender has faced increasing pressure from activists, shareholders and politicians who have criticised it for financing environmentally harmful projects.
However, Quinn told Reuters that the bank was now focused on expanding its capital markets-focused carbon transition policies to a broader one “encompassing all its activities across financing, asset management, and corporate and retail banking”.
He said: “What we have given the market is an ambition that our total financing by 2050 will be net zero, that is a far bigger prize or goal than picking a sub-segment of our portfolio and saying ‘I am not going to bank you’ because that’s not what the world needs.
“That industry or that customer may then just go to Bank X, Bank Y or Bank Z. They won’t have changed their business model.”