Ansar Ahmed Ullah :An alliance of anti-militarism, pro-Palestinian rights and climate groups joined forces to demand that banking giant HSBC ends its complicity in climate change, military occupation and war.
On the morning of 12th April, protesters gathered outside the HSBC AGM in Birmingham under the slogan “No War, No Warming” to speak out against the bank’s involvement in the climate crisis and militarised conflict around the planet. In the last three years alone, HSBC has poured £43bn into fossil fuels, whilst at the same time investing over £830m in arms companies and being involved in syndicated loans to the arms sector exceeding £18.9bn.
Along with various environmental and anti-war activists, Bangladeshi activists organisations NCBD UK and Phulbari Solidarity Group protested HSBC AG M as its fossil fuel and coal financing policies will have a devastating impact on Bangladesh, the most vulnerable country to the climate change. HSBC lead consortium of banks are financing Payra Port dredging for larger ships navigation to carry twenty million metric tonnes of coal for five more new coal power plants to be set up in the area. These will also have destructive impact on world’s largest mangrove forest the Sundarbans. HSBC states it will not finance coal fired plants with some exceptions i.e. Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. NCBD, demanded HSBC should hand off coal investment in Bangladesh.
Though there have already been campaigning successes – with anti-militarism and pro-Palestinian rights groups pushing HSBC to divest from Israel’s biggest arms manufacturer, Elbit Systems, last December and climate groups winning tighter restrictions on the bank’s coal policy last April – protesters say that HSBC’s policies, lending practices and exposure give cause for an escalation in action and demands.
As research shows that a heating climate has been a contributing factor behind wars in the Middle East, protesters assert that a cycle of war and warming increasingly binds anti-militarism and climate campaigners to the same cause. The groups highlight that in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, oil, gas and coal are being pulled from the ground under the watchful gaze of state-military and militias.
Previously, climate and anti-militarism groups have challenged HSBC on separate terms but have now come together in a collective show of force to demand that the bank severs ties with companies that are at the root of war crimes and global warming.
Protests against HSBC’s financing of war and climate change were coordinated by groups including 350.org, War on Want, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Bank Track, Bangladeshi Diaspora NCBD, UK and Phulbari Solidarity Group. Campaigners say they will continue to lobby and protest against HSBC until it divests fully from the fossil fuel industry and the arms trade.
Akhter Khan Masroor, Member Secretary, of NCBD, UK said, “Whilst coal mines funded by HSBC destroyed the ecology and livelihoods in Colombia and Russia, HSBC’s new investment in coal business in the Delta region is a threat to livelihoods in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country to climate change. As HSBC’s coal financing policy for Bangladesh will push it into more danger, we demand they do not invest in coal in Bangladesh and in the delta region. We do not need dirty coal energy. HSBC must also stop arming the Israeli state that is killing the people of Palestine.”