HSBC suspends senior banker for dismissing ‘nut job’ climate warnings

’Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,’ readone of the slides in financier’s presentation

Saphora Smith
Climate Correspondent
Monday 23 May 2022 15:59
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Top HSBC banker jokes 'who cares if Miami is underwater' during climate change speech

HSBC has reportedly suspended one of its senior bankers after he accused policymakers of exaggerating the risks of the climate crisis.

Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investments at the bank’s asset management division, will be suspended pending an internal investigation into a presentation he made at an event last week, according to the Financial Times.

Mr Kirk’s reported suspension comes after he spoke at the Financial Times Moral Money event where he gave a presentation entitled: “Why investors need not worry about climate risk.”

Mr Kirk said during his 25 years in the finance industry there had always been some “nut job” telling him about the “end of the world”, and likened the rhetoric around the climate crisis to predictions that there would be a computer glitch at the turn of the millennium.

“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” headlined one slide of his presentation that listed paraphrased quotes about the climate crisis from the likes of former Bank of England governor Mark Carney and the United Nations.

He also asked “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.”

HSBC declined to comment on individual employees, but pointed to a statement by Nicolas Moreau, CEO of HSBC Asset Management, in which he said remarks made at the event do not reflect the views of HSBC “in any way.”

“HSBC regards climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet,” Mr Moreau said in the statement. “And is committed to supporting its customers in their transition to net zero and a sustainable future and, like HSBC Asset Management, is committed to achieving net zero by 2050.”

HSBC’s chief executive has also said he doesn’t agree with the remarks made at the summit.

“They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management,” Noel Quinn said in a post on LinkedIn.

The Independent has contacted Mr Kirk.

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