when the rioters are funded!

While the entire asset management industry is opposing global warming and multiplying its faith, comments from Stuart Kirk, Global Head of Responsible Investments (sic) at HSBC Asset Management (AM), are causing serious chills. During the Moral Money conference organized on Friday Financial Times, the latter publicly expressed doubts about the reality of the financial risks associated with climate change. And it is especially flowery language.

“For 25 years, there was always an eccentric who (to me) spoke about the end of the world,” he began in the preamble of his presentation, entitled “ Why investors shouldn’t worry about climate risks. He believes that the risks are greatly overestimated by central banks and government agencies. Even as more immediate risks looming on the horizon, citing inflation, rising interest rates, cryptocurrencies, China, or an upcoming real estate crisis.

On one of his slides, Stuart Kirk even brings the idea to the end: “Unfounded, harsh, biased and self-serving doomsday warnings are ALWAYS wrong.” Before throwing his shocking phrase to the audience: “What does it matter if in 100 years Miami will be under water by six meters? Amsterdam has been underwater for ages and it’s a very beautiful place. We will adapt.”

Suspension of a manager

Comments communicated Financial Times, have clearly provoked outrage, especially from climate NGOs that are putting strong pressure on the banking and financial sector. The environmental associations Bank on our Future and Global Witness were particularly outraged by the remarks. shocking » and inaccurate », especially the leader in charge of sustainable funding! NGOs have been constantly exposing the “double discourse” of banks and asset managers suspected of “green laundering” for several years.

And according to Global Witness, Suart Kirk’s remarks reflect a state of mind in finance. “Investors and clients should rightly question the bank’s (HSBC) climate promises, including its upcoming oil and gas policy, and scrutinize them.” speaks to Bank’s Bo O’Sullivan about our future.

As early as Sunday, Noel Quinn, chief executive of HSBC, tried to calm things down by pointing out that Swart Kirk’s remarks do not reflect the position of a group that is clearly committed to moving the economy to net zero. According to British press reports, the manager would have been permanently removed from his duties on Monday, pending an internal investigation.

Speech is far from isolated

This loud voice can shake in the ocean of beautiful promises. But he is far from isolated in the world of finance. In his latest annual letter to shareholders, Larry Fink, the powerful boss of BlackRocK, the world’s largest asset manager (over $10,000 billion under management), has thus turned his back, saying it’s not BlackRock’s role in saving the planet. . And point out that the raison d’être of companies is to satisfy the stakeholders, and first of all the shareholders! However, in 2020, Larry Fink (belatedly) believed that asset management should be sustainable and responsible, a stance that was reaffirmed in 2021 by Black Rock’s commitment to achieving “zero net income” by 2050.

At the same time, there are many voices denouncing the greenwashing of Wall Street or the “big nonsense” of ESG classifications in the financial world. Last year, as shown Financial Timesratings firm Morningstar had to do a major purge to finally remove almost a third of funds in terms of assets from its ESG database. Even regulators are taking steps to defuse the suspicious lawsuit that is starting to spread throughout the financial industry.

In France, the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) is reminding anyone who wants to listen that the message about “sustainable” funds doesn’t have to be clear (how?) about their real environmental impact. Even the European Central Bank (ECB) is getting involved in this. He just warned financial players in an excerpt from his next Financial Stability Report about the risk of greening the financial façade.

After all, there may be merit to Stuart Kirk’s genius: thinking about what the world of finance does, what it should do, and how. A helpful thought that could bring order to the current big bazaar of sustainable finance.