Greenpeace investigation slams HSBC for financing palm oil companies accused of destroying swathes of rainforest
More than 120,000 people, including 30,000 of the bank’s own customers, have called on HSBC to stop providing finance to palm oil companies alleged to have been responsible for significant deforestation in Indonesia.
A Greenpeace investigation published last month claimed HSBC has extended financial support to palm oil companies in Indonesia that are responsible for destroying rainforests that are home to orangutans and other rare wildlife.
Since the allegations were made public, more than 120,000 people have signed a petition calling on HSBC to withdraw its support for the alleged companies. Some 30,000 of the signatories identified themselves as HSBC customers.
Jamie Woolley, forest campaigner for Greenpeace UK, said people have proved particularly motivated to call for change when they believe their own bank is at fault.
“Thousands of customers have sent a clear message to HSBC that they need to clean up their act,” he said in a statement. “Judging by the first two weeks, HSBC are going to be under a lot of pressure from their customers to take deforestation seriously and sort this problem out quickly.”
Greenpeace also commissioned YouGov to conduct a poll of more than 2,000 UK adults to discover their feelings about the lending practices of banks. It found that three-quarters of those who bank with HSBC said they would be concerned if their bank was ‘financially supporting companies who cut down trees in rainforest to assist palm oil production’, while half said they would consider moving their account.
In light of the allegations HSBC has insisted its deforestation policy does not allow for illegal deforestation, the destruction of high conservation value forests or activities which violate the rights of workers and local people.
In recent months the bank has stepped up its interest in green finance, issuing its first green bond, launching a new sustainable finance unit and investing £1.85bn from its UK pension scheme in an eco-friendly fund.
However, the bank had failed to respond to a request for comment on the latest petition at the time of going to press.