HSBC chief defends fossil fuels

Stuart Gulliver, CEO of HBSC, has made an impassioned plea to activists to stop demonising fossil fuel companies.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos Gulliver said it was “dangerous” to think that society should abandon the oil, gas and coal industry.

He warned of disastrous unintended consequences, in particular for developing countries, if the sector were ostracised, given that it is responsible for a huge numbers of jobs, money for pensions and tax revenues that fund education and health care.

Given the time it would take to scale up renewable energy, Gulliver said it was also important to recognize that coal, which is under greatest attack for its carbon emissions, would continue to be needed by developing countries for many years.

Gulliver admitted that HSBC was coming under pressure from activists to stop funding the fossil fuel industry. Christiana Figueres, who led the recent global climate talks in Paris, was onstage with Gulliver and agreed that it would not help “to demonise the fossil fuel companies or anyone else.”

However, she said it was unacceptable for the sector to continue with business as usual.