The HSBC banker dismisses the cost of climate change and says there’s always “a crazy job that tells me about the end of the world”.

HSBC has sought to distance itself from the head of responsible investing at its wealth management unit after the executive criticized the financial industry for worrying too much about the environment.

Climate change is not a financial risk to worry about,” Stuart Kirk said Thursday in a 15-minute presentation at a Financial Times conference. “There’s always some weirdo telling me about the end of the world.”

Mr Kirk, whose role means he is responsible for the integration of ESG risks and opportunities across asset classes at HSBC Asset Management, also took aim at former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and other policymakers because they raised the risk of climate change.

“I fully understand that at the end of your central bank career, there are still many, many years to fill,” he said. “You have to say something, you have to fly to conferences around the world, you have to exaggerate the next one. But I feel like it’s getting a bit out of control.”

Mr Kirk, who did not respond to a LinkedIn message asking for comment, said banks were neglecting more pressing issues to address climate risks.

“I work at a bank that is under crypto attack, we have regulators in the US trying to stop us, we have the China issue, we have a looming housing crisis, we have interest rates on the up, we have inflation on the pipes, and I’m being told to watch over and over again for something that’s going to happen 20 or 30 years from now,” he said. “Proportionality has gotten completely out of hand.”

Mankind should focus on adapting to a changing environment, Mr Kirk said, citing the example of Miami: “Who cares if Miami will be six meters under water in 100 years, Amsterdam has been six meters under water for ages , and this is a really nice place. We’ll deal with it.”

Nicolas Moreau, chief executive officer of HSBC’s wealth management unit, issued a statement dismissing Mr Kirk’s speech. The comments “in no way reflect the views of HSBC Asset Management or HSBC Group,” he said.

“HSBC recognizes climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet and is committed to supporting its clients in their transition to net zero and a sustainable future and, like HSBC Asset Management, is committed to doing so by 2050 to reach net zero.”

Celine Herweijer, the bank’s group chief sustainability officer, said Mr Kirk’s comments were “absolutely not the company’s view” while speaking at an ESG summit in London hosted by the Future Investment Initiative Institute in Saudi Arabia .

“These are an individual’s comments that have nothing to do with the company,” she told Bloomberg. “Climate change is a top headline topic for HSBC and moving to net zero is a top priority. We are very aware of this obligation, it is a key pillar of HSBC’s strategy.” The HSBC banker dismisses the cost of climate change and says there’s always “a crazy job that tells me about the end of the world”.

Fry Electronics Team

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