A senior HSBC executive has resigned this week, claiming he was “cancelled” after comments he made about the financial risks of climate change.
Stuart Kirk, who was global head of responsible investing at the bank, said he had been suspended in May after saying in a speech: “There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world.”
His role involved looking at the impact of investments on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
At a Financial Times summit two months ago, Kirk was reported to have made light of major floods, and said: “Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place.”
Chief executive Noel Quinn shared a LinkedIn statement confirming he did not agree with the comments, and they “do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management”.
Kirk posted a resignation statement yesterday (7 July) on LinkedIn, in which he claimed the comments had made his position at the bank “unsustainable”
He said: “Ironically given my job title, I have concluded that the bank’s behaviour towards me since my speech at a Financial Times conference in May has made my position, well, unsustainable.
“Over a 27-year unblemished record in finance, journalism and consulting I have only ever tried to do the best for my clients and readers, knowing that doing so helps my employer too.”
In a post tearing down “virtue signalling” and the “cancel culture”, he promised that he would “continue to prod with a sharp stick the nonsense, hypocrisy, sloppy logic and group-think inside the mainstream bubble of sustainable finance”.
Kirk added that he was teaming up with a group of other sustainable finance investors to deliver a new project later this year.
HSBC has been approached for a comment.