Champagne bar highlights HSBC bankrolling climate change

Thursday, 30 May, 2013


Campaigners set up a 'Carbon Bubbles champagne bar' outside of HSBC’s AGM to highlight the bank’s role in financing dirty energy projects.

Our bar staff were on hand at our Carbon Bubbles bar, ready to serve oil from champagne glasses, while protesters held placards reading 'HSBC stop bankrolling climate change'. 

Campaigners from the World Development Movement highlighted HSBC’s involvement in financing dirty energy projects around the world. 

For example, HSBC supports the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. Latin America’s largest coal mine, it has swallowed up entire villages and is subject to fierce local opposition. If the coal remaining in this mine were to be burned it would create 13,000,000,000 of CO2 emissions – 184 times the annual emissions of Colombia. Yet most of the coal is destined for export, including to the UK. [1]

HSBC has a total of £3.133 billion involvement in companies behind Cerrejon. Since 2009, HSBC has loaned a total of £369 million to the three companies behind the Cerrejon mine (£107 million to Anglo American and £262 million to Xstrata). It has also helped the three firms make £2.565 billion through bond issues (£252 million for Anglo American, £450 million for Xstrata, £1.863 billion for BHP Billiton) over the same period. HSBC’s asset management division also owns shares in BHP Billiton worth a further £199 million.

HSBC is also the most important British bond underwriter of Total, having underwritten bonds with a total value of £1,459 million since 2009. Bonds are a very important source of finance for Total, enabling it to carry out exploration into new areas. For example, in Madagascar, where Total has a 60 per cent stake in the Bemolanga tar sands block. Tar sands are one of the most polluting and carbon intensive forms of energy production. It is estimated that after 30 years of oil production government of Madagascar will only be receiving four percent of the oil revenues. [2]

HSBC is also providing financing for Exxon Mobil, which is leading a consortium planning the controversial Liquefied natural Gas (LNG) production in Papa New Guinea. And for Tullow Oil, a UK-based oil company operating in Ghana and Uganda. [3]

The World Development Movement is calling on HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver to release data on the carbon emissions released by the oil, coal and gas projects it finances.

New rules coming into force this year will mean banks have to report the carbon emissions from their offices, but they will not be required to report the much greater climate change impact of the dirty energy projects they finance across the world. [4]

Kirsty Wright, Head of campaigns and policy at the World Development Movement said: "HSBC is financing dirty energy projects around the world. Without the bonds and loans that banks like HSBC arrange, fossil fuel companies would not be able to continue with destructive projects like the Cerrejon coal mine and Madagascan tar sands exploration. HSBC must take its share of the responsibility for these projects, and clean up its portfolio."


[1] A briefing about the cerrejon coal mine is available here

[2] A briefing about the Madagascar tar sands is available here

[3] Tullow Oil made headlines in 2011 when it emerged that William Hague had strongly lobbied the Ugandan president on behalf of Tullow Oil over a £175 million unpaid tax bill in Uganda. Tullow Oil subsequently announced that it would not have to pay the tax bill.