International Bank Offers $100 Million to Fight Climate Change

LONDON, UK, May 30, 2007 (ENS) - The financial institution HSBC today announced a five year, US$100 million partnership to respond to the "urgent threat" of climate change worldwide. Four partner organizations will share in the funding - The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the global conservation group WWF.

Headquartered in London, HSBC is one of the world's largest banking and financial services organizations with 10,000 offices in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

At the London news conference held to launch the event this morning, HSBC Group Chairman Stephen Green said, "The HSBC Climate Partnership will achieve something profoundly important. By working with four of the world's most respected environmental organizations and creating a green taskforce of thousands of HSBC employees worldwide, we believe we can tackle the causes and impacts of climate change."

HSBC Group Chairman Stephen Green introduces the new partnership with broadcaster and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough at a news conference in London. (Photo courtesy HSBC)
"Over the next five years HSBC will make responding to climate change central to our business operations and at the heart of the way we work with our clients across the world," Green said.

Broadcaster and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough said at the launch, "As we increase the production of greenhouse gases, we face the very real prospect of causing irreversible damage to the Earth's more fragile ecosystems."

"We are not powerless if we act now, collectively and decisively," Attenborough said. "We can significantly reduce the causes of climate change and greatly improve the chances of safeguarding for future generations the spectacular diversity of life on Earth."

To initiate the partnerhip, HSBC will make the largest donations ever to each of these organizations and the largest donation ever made by a British company.

Through its work with The Climate Group, the HSBC Climate Partnership will help five of the world's largest cities Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai - respond to the challenge of climate change.

London is one of the five cities to benefit from the HSBC Climate Partnership funding. (Photo by Ian Britton courtesy FreeFoto)
Steve Howard, CEO of The Climate Group said, "Climate change is an increasingly urban issue. High summer temperatures, storms and rising sea levels will have more extreme impacts on city life. We have a short period of time left to take action. Many of the solutions lie in cities - concentrations of capital, decision makers, opinion formers and population."

Based in the UK, the USA, and Australia, The Climate Group is a three year old nonprofit organization. Membership is open to companies, nongovernmental organizations, and local, regional and national governments.

Howard said, "Through the HSBC Climate Partnership we will accelerate our program in five world cities, engaging the most influential businesses and city governments to lead a coalition of the willing against global warming."

By working with WWF, the HSBC Climate Partnership will focus on the protection of large rivers from the impacts of climate change. Established in 1961, WWF operates in more than 100 countries funding some 2,000 conservation projects.

James Leape, director general of WWF International said, "Climate change, poor management and waste mean that water supplies around the world are more and more stressed."

The world's longest transoceanic bridge is being constructed across part of the Yangtze River Delta. The Grand Hangzhou Bay Sea-crossing Bridge will be 36 miles long when complete in 2008. (Photo courtesy Cixi City Government)
"The HSBC Climate Partnership will help WWF work towards better management of global water supplies, improve water security for about 450 million people, and reduce the impact of climate change on some of the world's most important rivers, including the Amazon, Ganges, Thames and Yangtze," Leape said.

Through its work with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the HSBC Climate Partnership will finance research on the world's forests that will measure carbon and the effects of climate change.

Based in Panama, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, STRI, will receive US$8 million as its part of the $100 million HSBC funding. A bureau of the Smithsonian Institution based outside of the United States, STRI is dedicated to understanding biological diversity.

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from endowments, contributions, and profits from its shops and magazine. It is governed by a Board of Regents headed by Chancellor John G. Roberts, Jr., chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Panama rainforest (Photo courtesy Geography Department, Michigan State University)
Dr. Ira Rubinoff, director of STRI and acting under secretary of the Smithsonian Institution said, "The Smithsonian has studied tropical forests in Panama for nearly 100 years. We are setting up a network of new Global Earth Observatories, based on the longest-running standardized forest monitoring program, covering all the major tropical rainforest areas of the world."

"HSBC's donation will enable the Smithsonian to deliver key scientific data in the hands of decision makers responsible for global carbon policy and water management," Rubinoff said.

"The Earthwatch task is to bring together top scientists, HSBC staff, and local communities, to speed up the knowledge required to understand the complex issue of climate change and to make clear and firm recommendations," said Nigel Winser, executive director of Earthwatch Europe.

Earthwatch will conduct a global program of research in five key temperate and tropical forest locations around the world - in China, India, Brazil, North America and the UK.

Earthwatch is a 35 year old international environmental charity with offices in the UK, the USA, Australia and Japan. It works by matching conservation volunteers from around the world with suitable research projects.

Nigel Winser, executive director of Earthwatch Europe (Photo courtesy Earthwatch)
Winser says Earthwatch will work with HSBC's entire global workforce. All staff will have access to an online-learning program, there will be volunteering opportunities on projects in local communities for 25,000 HSBC staff, and 2,400 will join the Earthwatch team of scientists "for hands on research on our forest projects to gather critical climate change information," he said.

"People need positive solutions to help them tackle climate change rather than messages of doom and gloom," Winser said. "Earthwatch is committed to inspiring action, not apathy."

HSBC's Climate Partnership program sets forth targets and offers transformational support for the environmental organizations involved. The donations will help to deliver increased capacity, help the charities to expand across new countries and research sites, and increase their access to more people.

The HSBC Climate Partnership builds upon the HSBC Group's previous US$50 million, five year eco-partnership which concluded in 2006.

Called Investing in Nature, that earlier program saw the Group partner with Botanical Gardens Conservation International, Earthwatch, and WWF.

HSBC says that program saved more than 12,000 plant species from extinction, trained 200 scientists, sent 2,000 HSBC employees on conservation research projects worldwide, and protected freshwater resources in Brazil, China and the UK.

The HSBC Group is named after its founding member, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, which was established in 1865 to finance the trade between China and Europe.