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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 14, 2009
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Climate Change: The Expert View
October 14, 2009   
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Sustainability is at the heart of HSBC's strategy. In 2007, it announced the launch of the HSBC Climate Partnership and appointed Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the landmark 2006 Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, as advisor on economic development and climate change.

Lord Stern answers questions on the realities of climate change, what can be done to address it and the role for financial firms such as HSBC.

Is climate change now accepted as a fact?
In the last few years we have seen evidence of just how impactful climate change effects will be. We now understand that if we continue "business as usual" until the end of this century, there is a 50 percent chance that the earth will become at least five degrees centigrade warmer. That would be absolutely devastating.

What will happen if we do nothing to combat climate change?
If climate change is allowed to continue unchecked, it will make economic growth much more difficult. With an increase of 5 degrees, most of the world's ice and snow would disappear. This would eventually lead to sea-level rises of 10 meters or more. Understanding the effects of climate change on economic development is fundamental for any organization-particularly a financial institution such as HSBC, whose activities are spread across the economy and the globe.

What needs to happen?
We can be much more efficient in the way we use energy, we can halt deforestation, which will reduce emissions quickly and cost-effectively. At the same time, we can invest in new technologies like wind and solar technology. If we do move to a low-carbon growth path, there will be numerous investment and employment opportunities.

I think the financial sector and HSBC in particular has an important role to play in the fight against climate change. Banks can help by financing the right kind of investments, and covering the right kind of risks. But it's also about saving energy and reducing emissions. There is a real business case for understanding climate change and getting involved in the urgent challenge. Financial innovation will be crucial and a key driver of competitiveness, placing the banking sector in a central position.

Climate change presents both risks and opportunities for HSBC. As an adviser, lender and investor, HSBC can play an important role in encouraging the companies and projects it finances to manage climate change-related risks and opportunities.
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