[Contribution] The role of banks as a ‘catalyst for change’ to support the transition to a net zero economy


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South Korea has been a great experience for our family since moving here with HSBC at the end of 2018. Our daughter who just turned four is growing up happily.

For those who know me, I have always believed that you can learn a lot from children. From endless creativity and ever more sophisticated negotiation skills to the little things they learn in school, the stimulating interactions often provide valuable insights into life and how we should think about future generations.

One of those cases happened a few weeks ago when our daughter pointed at a plastic bottle and said, “Daddy, we have to recycle or the Earth will get sick!” Awesome, I thought.

Ultimately, this led to long conversations with my colleagues that Korea, the country well known for successfully tackling many challenges at a steady pace, cannot avoid climate change either.

The climate crisis is one of the hottest topics in Korea right now. Intense corporate and media interest was sparked by the Korean government when it announced a plan to achieve net zero by 2050 in October 2020. Almost every day, we hear news from Korean companies announcing zero net management objectives or launching products to fight against climate change. . In particular, local banks seem to pay the greatest attention to the climate issue, most of them prioritizing environmental risks in their risk profile and setting up ESG committees within their boards of directors.

Some may ask “why the banks?” Put simply, banks have a responsibility to be catalysts for change, helping businesses transition to a net zero economy – the transition to a more sustainable future requires large-scale financing and investment.

Specifically, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says just under $ 3 trillion in investment is needed each year to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

In addition, a recent study from Imperial College London estimated that the current climate finance market is around $ 800 billion per year.

In fact, the financial services industry has set ambitious net zero goals and committed billions of dollars to the transition. For example, HSBC, which has long led the global sustainability agenda, said last year that it intends to make its entire customer portfolio carbon neutral by 2050 by committing up to $ 1 trillion. dollars in funding to support this goal, in addition to doing its own net zero supply chain and operations by 2030.

The bank is also investing heavily in new solutions and technologies to accelerate decarbonization.

The good news is that climate change is not only one of the most important challenges of our time, but also the greatest business opportunity of our time. For example, the Korean government’s Green New Deal presents a wide range of new opportunities for businesses of all sizes. These are opportunities to save our planet and imagine innovative solutions.

It is the financial services industry that can accelerate positive change by connecting opportunities to businesses.

Let’s work together to leave the world in a better place for future generations. Let’s not make Earth sick.

Jonathan Yip, who joined HSBC in 2008, was appointed in February as Head of World Bank from HSBC Korea. – Ed

By Choi Jae-hee ([email protected])

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