HSBC Banker Suspended After Playing Down Financial Risks of Climate Change
UK pension schemes should not ignore climate change, a senior executive at The Pensions Regulator said on Monday, the first watchdog to weigh in after a top HSBC banker was suspended after playing down the financial risks of climate change.
Regulators across the world have been putting pressure on the financial services industry to take climate change into account when calculating risks to their business models.
The Bank of England will this week publish climate stress test results in aggregate for banks and insurers.
Stuart Kirk, a senior HSBC banker in charge of sustainable investments, had said central bank policymakers and other global authorities were exaggerating the financial risks of climate change.
The bank has since suspended him pending an internal investigation, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.
HSBC’s Chief Executive Noel Quinn has since disowned Kirk’s remarks, saying they were inconsistent with the bank’s strategy.
Kirk did not respond to requests for comment on social media over the weekend or on Monday.
“We believe any scheme that does not consider climate change is ignoring a major risk to pension savings and missing out on investment opportunities,” said David Fairs, the regulator’s executive director for Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice.
“Climate change is systemically important to pension schemes and to our role as a regulator,” he added in an emailed statement.
The regulator supervises the 2.5 trillion pound ($3.1 trillion) UK pension fund sector, a major investor in the UK economy, in which larger schemes are facing new UK climate governance and reporting requirements.
Pension trustees should look at how climate change is affecting asset prices and employers’ financial strength, Fairs said.
($1 = 0.7961 pounds)
(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn and Lawrence White; editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter)
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