‘Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater?’ HSBC banker under fire for dismissing climate warnings

Stuart Kirk used speech at business conference to dismiss ‘unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings’

Matt Mathers
Sunday 22 May 2022 22:27
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<p>Coastal cities like Miami have already experienced serious flooding thanks to recent hurricanes, and researchers warn that inundation with water could endanger the region's internet infrastructure</p>

Coastal cities like Miami have already experienced serious flooding thanks to recent hurricanes, and researchers warn that inundation with water could endanger the region's internet infrastructure

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A HSBC banker in charge of responsible investing has come under fire for suggesting "apocalyptic warnings" about climate change are "unsubstantiated".

Stuart Kirk, of HSBC Asset Management, made the remarks at a Financial Times Moral Money event on Thursday, the paper reported.

He said that, throughout his 25-year career in the finance industry, there had always been some "nut job" warning him about "the end of the world".

Mr Kirk also likened the climate crisis to the millenium bug, the feared widespread global computer glitch at the end of 1999.

“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” he wrote on a slide accompanying his presentation, according to the FT.

He is also reported to have said "who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?", adding: “Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it.”

Mr Kirk did not question the science behind climate change but suggested HSBC investors had more pressing concerns.

His comments come amid growing about climate change among the public and increasing calls for banks and financial institutions to stop backing fossil fuels and to support the transition to renewable energy.

Activists condemned the comments and called for Mr Kirk to be sacked.

Beau O’Sullivan, senior campaigner on the Bank on our Future campaign, said: “HSBC should be asking Mr Kirk to resign: his comments are inexcusable and completely neglect the impacts of the climate crisis being felt by the global south right now.

“Sadly, he’s probably not the only bad apple within HSBC given its record of funding climate destruction.”

Nicolas Moreau, HSBC Asset Management’s chief executive, said that Mr Kirk's remarks “do not reflect the views of HSBC Asset Management nor HSBC Group in any way”. He added that HSBC remains committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

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