Back in January, HSBC, the global bank launched its “Together We Thrive” ad campaign. In the video the UK-based bank celebrates its international tastes in everything from Colombian coffee to flat-pack Swedish furniture. Presumably in an attempt to distance itself from the insular mentality of Brexit and show its global customers it is still open for business everywhere?
Well, now some crafty activists have remade the ad with a slightly different twist. Yes, the bank is global – but in this version HSBC celebrates its true role in worsening the global climate crisis and arms-sale financing. It’s a Vietnamese coal-financing, Indonesia-polluting and Bangladesh sea-level rising champion. Watch the reworked video below:
For a bank that seems so concerned with its public image when it comes to Brexit and sustainability (they sponsored a Sustainable Finance summit in Paris last November), they clearly haven’t yet recognised the hypocrisy in continuing to fund polluting coal power stations in some of the most climate-vulnerable countries in the world.
While the video may be a tongue-in-cheek parody, it’s actually highlighting a serious loophole in the banks’ coal financing policy. Back in March 2018, HSBC announced a partial ban on financing new coal plants in response to mounting pressure from activists and campaigners. However, HSBC hasn’t ruled out funding new coal power projects in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. The bank is also implicated in tens of billions in loans to arms companies.
Kudos to these groups for calling them out and playing HSBC at its own branding game. The bank is holding its annual shareholder meeting in the UK this week and is set to face further pressure on its reputation when activists from anti-war and anti-climate groups show up. Let’s see how long the video stays up.
If you want to help the campaign, you can sign this petition telling HSBC to stop funding climate destroying coal companies in climate-vulnerable countries now.