Banks are “catalysts” on the way to a carbon-free economy, says HSBC


(Bloomberg) – Banks will play a key role in reducing carbon emissions by advising clients on how to best address their environmental footprint, according to a senior executive at HSBC Holdings Plc.

“Catalyst is the word I use, but it’s in a very proactive sense,” said Colin Bell, who heads HSBC’s European unity, in a panel discussion at a conference Tuesday. “Customers come in many shapes and sizes. We as banks play a very active role in helping them understand the tools, techniques, analyzes and advising them on their considerations for the changeover. “

Lenders around the world are using climate change efforts as an opportunity to improve their reputations and generate income from advising and lending to companies that clean up their businesses. Regulators are also pushing the financial industry to address the risks of climate change, leading banks to seek more data on their clients’ environmental impact.

Nicole Röttmer, partner in the field of sustainability services at PwC Germany, said that there is only “a small group” of companies that are best aware of the risks and opportunities of climate change. Others are seeking advice from their company as they receive climate-related inquiries from banks, she said on the same panel.

There is also “a third wave coming now” as the European Commission introduces new reporting requirements and also feeds into broader business policy considerations, she said.

Most companies today have “specific scenarios” for phasing out CO2 emissions, which is a development compared to 12 or 18 months ago, according to Ingo Speich, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Governance at Deka Investment.

However, some managements “are still reluctant to take a steeper path to net zero, especially companies with high carbon emissions,” he said on the panel. “In general, the debate is more about the route than the end goal.”

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