One of HSBC’s largest shareholders has defended a senior banker who was suspended after giving a speech on climate change, saying “Nutjobs always warns of the end of the world”.
Sir Nigel Wilson, chief executive of the Legal and General Group, said it was “good to have a debate” on global warming because “not everyone has the same views on different issues”.
His support comes after Stuart Kirk, the global head of responsible investment in HSBC asset management, said in a speech at a conference last Thursday that “if Miami is under water, who cares.”
Senior HSBC figures, one of the world’s largest banks, have come out to condemn his inflammatory remarks following the scandal.
Speaking after the company unveiled its first statewide investment to focus on life sciences, research and technology, Mr Wilson said he encourages employees to “speak up” if they have opposing views within the organization, the Telegraph reports.
Sir Nigel Wilson (pictured), chief executive of the Legal and General Group, said it was “good to have a debate” on global warming because “not everyone has the same views on different issues”.
Stuart Kirk is the global head of responsible investment in HSBC asset management. He said that Nutjobs had always predicted the “end of the world”.
Mr Wilson said: ‘People who work for us want to be on that journey [towards net zero]. It is good to have a debate on how we get on that journey and what role we should play in that journey.
“But we are very committed to making a difference in this area.
‘Not everyone has the same opinion on many different issues in our business. We have a ‘speak up’ policy, and if people are not happy with things they are encouraged to speak up.
‘This is very useful, and so we have taken a very broad approach to investing in science and technology in the UK. I think that’s why our colleagues, our board, our regulators and our shareholders are all enthusiastic supporters of our goals as a firm. “
Mr Kirk’s comments were made even though the content, content and slides of the talks were agreed upon internally, sources told the Financial Times.
Mr Kirk added: “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been under six meters of water for ages and that is a really nice place. ‘ Photo: Front Side Beach, Miami (file image)
Opening remarks, Mr Kirk said: “Climate change is not a risk we should worry about – hypocrites!”
He continued: ‘I think it’s getting a little out of hand, a constant reminder that we’re doomed. A constant reminder that it’s all over for decades. It has become so hyperbolic that no one knows how to get people’s attention.
“After 25 years in the financial industry, I’ve been told a few things about the end of the world.
How Scientists Predict Miami Will ‘End’ in the Next Century
Scientific studies have already warned that rising seas are at risk of flooding due to global warming in Miami.
Experts have already established that if we do nothing to reduce the burning of our fossil fuels by 2100, the planet will face a sea level rise of 14-32 feet (4.3-9.9 meters), according to a report in the National Academy of Sciences. Science said.
A 2015 study found that 414 US cities were particularly at risk. Many could be saved if carbon emissions were dramatically reduced, but including Miami – already ruined, it claimed.
‘In our analysis, many cities have futures that depend on our carbon choices but some seem to have already disappeared,’ wrote lead author Ben Strauss, vice president of sea level and climate effects at the Climate Center.
“And it’s hard to imagine how we can protect Miami in the long run.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a left-wing Democratic congresswoman, suggested that Miami’s existence would end “in a few years” without radical action.
“But I’m worried about how much work these people get me to do, the amount of regulation coming down the pipes, the number of people on my team and the financial risks from climate change on HSBC.”
Mr Kirk suggested that too many resources were directed at a problem that was “20 or 30 years down the line”.
‘I work at a bank being attacked by crypto. In the US, regulators are trying to stop us. We have a problem with China.
‘We have a crisis at home. We have raised interest rates.
‘We’ve got inflation down the pipe and I’ve been told to spend time … looking at what’s going to happen in 20 or 30 years. Therefore, proportionality is completely distorted. ‘
He added: “Humans are great at adapting to change, adapting to climate emergencies, and we will continue to do so.
‘Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been under six meters of water since age and this is a really nice place.
“I have no doubt in science, but we need to adapt.”
HSBC says climate change is one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet, but Mr. Kirk suggested it’s not a big deal for the High Street Bank.
He said: ‘In a big bank like ours, what is the average loan length for people? It’s six years. What happens to the planet in seven years is really irrelevant in our debt book. For Coal, what happens in seven years is really irrelevant. Let’s go back to earning money from the transition. ‘
He also took the pop of Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, who had previously said that climate change would reduce the cost of living.
“I fully understand that there are still many, many years to go before the end of your central bank career.
‘You have to say something, you have to fly around the world at conferences, you have to hyperbole another guy, but I think it got a little out of hand,’ Kirk said.
Mr Kirk revealed the slides he had produced “to make people angry” to show how the number of “climate disasters” was written on press “risk” assets.
He also popped up with Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of England, who had previously said that climate change would reduce the cost of living.
Mr Kirk argued that the financial risk from climate change was not significant and was down the line
Cambridge graduates who used to edit FT’s Lex column
Mr Kirk has previously served as Global Head of Responsible Investing at HSBC for 11 months after serving as Global Head of Research and Insights.
He is the former editor of FT’s Lex column. He has also worked for Deutsche Bank, DWS Asset Management and Management Consultant Oliver Wyman.
Mr Kirk did an MA in economics at Cambridge University, where he studied from 1992 to 1995.
The Cambridge graduate has now been suspended pending investigation, sources at HSBC told FT.
Over the weekend, chief executives Noel Quinn and Nuno Matos, head of HSBC’s property and personal banking business, both tried to distance themselves from comments on social media posts.
I do not agree with the remarks made on – at all [this] The FT Ethical Money Summit of the Week, ‘Mr. Quinn wrote on LinkedIn.
‘They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC asset management.
“We have a lot of work to do, and I’m determined that our team will not be distracted by last week’s remarks.”
Mr Matos said: “In full agreement with Noel Quinn – the transition to net zero is at the top. [sic] Is important to us and we will strive for ways to help our customers on this journey. ‘
Although HSBC declined to comment on whether Kirk was at risk of losing his job because of the remarks, Nicholas Moreau, the bank’s head of asset management, said Kirk’s views “do not in any way reflect the views of HSBC Asset Management or the HSBC Group.”
He added: “HSBC views climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet, and is committed to helping its customers transform into a net zero and sustainable future.”
Mr Kirk argued that humans are better at adapting to change and will be able to adapt to climate change.
A graph produced by Mr. Kirk to argue that climate change risks will not be an issue for decades
Mr. Kirk is a former editor of the FT’s Lex column. He has also worked for Deutsche Bank, DWS Asset Management and Management Consultant Oliver Wyman.
Activists have been demanding his dismissal.
“HSBC should urge Mr. Kirk to resign: his remarks are unforgivable and completely ignore the effects of the current global climate crisis,” said Beau O’Sullivan, the bank’s senior campaigner.
“Sadly, he’s probably not the only bad apple on HSBC’s record of financing climate change.”
The bank has not yet issued a formal statement on Mr Kirk’s suspension and was not immediately available for comment.
This is especially embarrassing for HSBC, which is seeking to increase its green light, as investors have recently voted in favor of a new climate commitment.
The group, which has invested more than ४ 2.4 trillion (७ 1.7 trillion) in global assets, plans to vote at its annual general meeting following pressure from shareholders, including ShareAction.
Mr Kirk was appointed head of HSBC’s responsible investment unit in July 2021 – a role that involves looking at the risks involved in investing in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
HSBC has been contacted by MailOnline for comment.