A British watchdog Wednesday hit out at HSBC for adverts promoting its green initiatives that failed to highlight the bank’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.
The Advertising Standards Authority said in a statement that it had banned further use of HSBC posters that appeared a year ago ahead of the COP26 climate summit hosted by Britain.
ASA found that “despite the initiatives highlighted in the ads, HSBC was continuing to significantly finance investments in businesses and industries that emitted notable levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses”.
The watchdog “concluded that the ads omitted material information and were therefore misleading”.
The posters, seen at bus stops in London and Bristol, western England, featured images of nature alongside HSBC pledges of massive green financing as well as help towards the planting of two million trees.
Responding to the ban, HSBC insisted that “the financial sector has a responsibility to communicate its role in the low carbon transition to raise public awareness and engage its customers”.
But it acknowledged the need to “consider how best to do this” as it delivers the bank’s “ambitious net zero commitments”.
UK multinationals, seeking to meet a British government target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, are frequently accused of “greenwashing” by environmentalists.
The term refers to corporate efforts to promote often spurious environmental measures to keep customers on board and is an accusation currently being thrown at companies worldwide.