Profit from climate concern | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2010


Profit from climate concern

Banker urges businesses on the eve of HSBC-Daily Star Climate Awards

Teresa Au

Climate change will bring business opportunities in countries like Bangladesh, said Teresa Au, HSBC's head of corporate sustainability for the Asia-Pacific region.
But more investment is needed in research and development to make the breakthroughs that will fuel the initial demand, said the banker. For example, climate change generates opportunities in power generation, such as wind farms and solar installations, in the business case is right.
Moves by companies to change their behaviour will create a boom for those involved in climate consultancy services and carbon-credit trading, said the visiting HSBC official who has over 20 years of experience in different roles at the bank.
“Businesses need to be given incentives to be proactive with climate-change issues,” she said.
Au, a Hong Kong national, was in Dhaka yesterday, to attend a climate awards ceremony co-hosted by The Daily Star and HSBC.
HSBC has a long-term interest in making sure that its customers engage in environmentally sound activities, she said. She adds that it was the first UK bank to be carbon-neutral -- meaning that the amount of CO2 emitted during its day-to-day activities is offset by another activity that captures CO2 or prevents it from being released.
Scientists expect Bangladesh will be among the nations that struggle most with climate change; particularly if it brings more frequent floods, droughts, cyclones and surges in sea levels.
Au spoke on climate change and its impacts on businesses, related opportunities and economic policies, incentives for environment-friendly businesses, global climate summits and HSBC's plan to promote green businesses.
She explained why the bank got involved in the climate change issue: “Climate change and environmental protection is a global concern. It affects us all -- from our customers and employees to the banking services which we offer.”
Awareness of environmental risks makes the bank concerned about losing business if it does not operate sustainably -- and makes it encourage clients to do likewise, she said: “We feel it essential that we have sustainable commodities [banking services] to run our business. And ultimately, what is bad for a business is bad for its bankers.”
She said financial services providers are now addressing what climate change means for their businesses and providing risk-assessment advice for their clients.
The bank advises its customers that if they do not adapt to climate change, they may not survive. HSBC monitors its clients' green business activities by external auditors, Au said.
She said businesses need to introduce energy-efficient processes, which will give them a cost advantage over their rivals, and also to develop new products and services that tackle climate change.
Incentives can act as a tonic to create awareness on environment degradation, she said. “Incentives to green businesses can also create initial demand,” said Au.
She supports incentives because a green business is initially costlier than a normal one. Incentives are often more useful than tough legislation to limit pollution, she added.
She said HSBC is ready to finance businesses that want to be more environment-friendly.
When asked, the top banker said HSBC has nothing to do with the global summit such as Cancun because it is a meeting of different governments.
The HSBC Group launched a five-year, $100-million partnership with four international environmental organisations -- The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Worldwide Fund for Nature -- in May of 2007.
In December of that year it launched the HSBC Climate Partnership China Programme in Beijing, with an investment of more than $20 million.
The UK-headquartered bank is also eager to help Bangladesh. Sami Hafiz, an official of HSBC, Bangladesh, said the bank has built 400 houses for climate refugees in coastal areas of Bangladesh.
“We are also ready to help Bangladesh if it wants to convert its sea water (saline) into drinking water,” he said.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News