Billionaire Chris Hohn’s Foundation Takes Aim at Banks Over Coal Loans
(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Chris Hohn’s Children’s Investment Fund Foundation has called on HSBC Holdings Plc, Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays Plc to phase out financing for coal projects and to recognize a higher degree of risk from lending to the sector.
The foundation has also pressed regulators including the European Central Bank and the Bank of England to make new demands on banks to publicly disclose their exposures to coal assets and financing.
“CIFF is now calling on regulators and banks to correctly account for and disclose the risks coal poses to humans, the environment and to bank balance sheets,” Hohn, a co-founder and trustee of the foundation, and Chairman Graeme Sweeney, said in a statement.
Banks should, at a minimum, match commitments made last month by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc on lending to the fossil fuel sector, including oil and gas producers, Hohn and Sweeney say in the letters.
RBS has pledged to stop making loans and underwriting debt for companies with more than 15% of activities related to coal by 2021, unless they have credible transition plans in place that are in line with the Paris accord’s temperature goals. The bank also plans to stop financing major oil and gas producers without a Paris-aligned transition plan by 2021, and expects to fully phase out coal from its business by 2030.
Representatives for HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A CIFF spokesman confirmed the foundation doesn’t hold shares in any of the three banks.
Hohn’s TCI Fund Management has been vocal in its advocacy on climate change and has previously said it would oust boards or dump shares in portfolio companies that don’t act to reduce emissions.
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