A senior executive at HSBC has reportedly been suspended after accusing central bankers and other authorities of misrepresenting the financial consequences of climate change.
“There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world,” Stuart Kirk, a senior in the bank’s ethical investing division, said last week.
HSBC CEO Noel Quinn expressed his displeasure with the comments on social media over the weekend.
Kirk was reportedly suspended, but the company declined to comment.
According to the Financial Times, Kirk, who is global head of responsible investing at the bank’s asset management division, has been suspended pending an investigation into a speech he gave at an event last week.
His job entails analysing the impact of investments on environmental, social, and governance challenges, and he is headquartered in London. After giving a presentation headlined “Why investors should not worry about climate risk” at a conference on Thursday, HSBC was under pressure to fire Kirk.
He downplayed the dangers of massive floods in his speech, saying that he had to spend his time “looking at something that will happen in 20 or 30 years.” “Climate change is not a financial danger that we need to worry about,” Kirk said during his 15-minute speech at the FT Moral Money Summit.
“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” a slide shown as part of the presentation said.
He remarked later in the presentation: “What difference does it make if Miami is six metres submerged in 100 years? For years, Amsterdam has been six metres underwater, and it’s a lovely area.”
Senior HSBC officials have spoken out over the remarks since the speech.
Noel Quinn, the bank’s group chief executive, wrote on LinkedIn on Saturday that he did not agree “at all” with Kirk’s views.
“They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management,” he said.
HSBC’s wealth and personal banking chief executive Nuno Matos said he was “completely in accord” with Quinn and that “the transition to net zero is of highest importance to us.”
There were no comments from HSBC about the suspension.
Instead, a spokesman sent a statement from HSBC Asset Management CEO Nicolas Moreau, who called climate change “one of the world’s most urgent catastrophes.”
“HSBC Asset Management is committed to driving the transition to a sustainable global economy and has a fiduciary responsibility to ensure its clients’ monies are managed for positive long-term environmental and social outcomes,” Moreau added.
According to the Financial Times, both the concept and content of the presentation had been approved by the corporation.
(Adapted from EconomicTimes.com)