Investors Call For Global Effort Against Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Group of investment firms call for more to be done, though fail to own up to their own dealings.

Some of the world’s biggest investors have called on global governments to end support for fossil fuel subsidies. The group who jointly hold a $41tn (£29tn) blanket of wealth signed a letter calling on governments to do more.

The signatories include HSBC, Aviva, Allianz Global Investors, Asset Management,, Investment Management, Axa, M&G, Amundi, BNP Paribas, Nomura Asset Management and Legal and General.

Although a positive news bite, all signatories of the letter forget they play a part in fossil fuel investment. Instead of addressing their own investments which includes HSBC as a major financial backer of fossil fuel projects, they simply gloss over their own contributions which have increased carbon emissions.

This is, again, yet another example of large multinationals pushing blame onto others. Although many governments have a part to play in the financing of big oil projects, this behaviour deflects ownership away from their own actions and gives licence to them to continue asking stakeholders to change their habits instead of their own, shifting blame in the process.

The world’s largest 60 investment banks and commercial entities financed $3.8tn of fossil fuel projects within four years between 2016 and 2020. This includes HSBC, Barclays, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, RBC and JP Morgan who alone financed more than $316 billion of fossil fuel deals.

In the letter, the signatories said: We stand at the beginning of a pivotal decade in which institutional investors and government leaders worldwide have the power to raise ambition and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis”….“If we do not meet this challenge and change course immediately, the world could heat in excess of 3C this century – far beyond the goal of the Paris agreement.”

In February, climate group ‘ClientEarthcalled out HSBC in particular. Lawyer Jamie Sawyer who works for the organisation said: “It is not enough to declare net-zero ambitions; HSBC must explain how they will achieve them. The directors have both legal and moral duties to consider the bank’s impact on the environment and mitigate the risks of climate change.

“Inaction will not only jeopardise HSBC’s own financial health, but will exacerbate the systemic impacts the crisis will inflict on the entire economy. We urge board members to show real leadership in responding to the climate emergency and support the resolution.”

Photography: Martin Smith