HSBC pledges $100m to combat climate change

HSBC pledges $100m to combat climate change

Hilary Osborne
Wednesday May 30, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

Sir David Attenborough: Humans have “no alternative” but to try to
stop global warming. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

HSBC today pledged $100m (=A350m) to a fund to tackle climate change, in
what it said was the biggest ever donation made by a British company.
The HSBC Climate Partnership brings together the Climate Group,
Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF
– four organisations that seek to address the global causes and
effects of climate change.
Over the next five years, the money will be used to fund a range of
projects including schemes to protect the Yangtze river and the
world’s rainforests, and work to identify how the world’s largest
cities can adapt to climate change.

Speaking at the launch of the partnership, broadcaster Sir David
Attenborough said HSBC had recognised the problem of climate change
and responded in a “spectacular way”.
He said climate change was threatening vital eco-systems and humans
had “no alternative” but to try to stop global warming.
“The complexity of the problem is so great, the dimension of the
problem is so great that the only way we can do something about it is
to join together,” he said.
HSBC’s group chairman Stephen Green said the partnership was
“profoundly important”.
The bank has already committed to becoming carbon neutral and Mr Green
said it was working with clients in “un-green” business sectors to
help them become environmentally sound.
Mr Green said not all companies would find this as easy as HSBC,
because of the nature of their work.
He said HSBC’s 300,000 employees were behind the partnership and many
would benefit from taking part in volunteering projects with
Earthwatch.
The bank chose its four partners from 10 groups who had put forward
proposals for what they would do with the funds.
The HSBC pledge represents the largest donation made to each of the
charities involved.
Those who receive money are expected to report on their progress
throughout the five-year period.
Mr Green said: “I don’t want to get to the end of five years and find
we have wasted the money and have nothing to show for it, but at the
same time I don’t expect to get to the end of the five years and say
the work is finished.”
The biggest beneficiaries of the donation are WWF and Earthwatch, who
will each receive $35m to spend on projects.
WWF will use its funding to focus on rivers, particularly China’s
Yangtze, to mitigate the impact of climate change on freshwater
supplies and help communities adapt to the problem of water scarcity.
It said the money would help it protect 25% of the world’s freshwater
and benefit 450 million people who depend on the Yangzte, Amazon,
Ganges and Thames for their water supplies.
Earthwatch will focus on helping people research and understand
climate change, including HSBC staff who will be offered online
education and the chance to see projects first-hand.
It will also develop eight new climate change research projects in
five forests around the world.
The organisation’s executive director, Nigel Winser, said: “With the
help of our four partners we want to create a ripple effect, reaching
millions.”
The Smithsonian Institution, which will receive $8m from the fund,
said it would use the money to fund projects that would give a new
perspective on how the world’s forests work.
It will examine how the composition of forests affects how they store
carbon, and establish how important rainforests are to the planet, as
well as undertaking work to see what impact the planned expansion of
the Panama canal will have on the area’s rainfall.
The fourth partner, the Climate Group, works with businesses and city
and state leaders to promote action on climate change.
Its $17m slice of the money will go towards making Hong Kong, London,
Mumbai, New York and Shanghai greener.
Asked why the focus was on some of the world’s richest cities, the
organisation’s CEO, Steve Howard, said they had been chosen for the
influence they would have over the regions.
He said his organisation was looking to “lead a ‘coalition of the
willing’ against global warming.”