HSBC Holdings has suspended executive Stuart Kirk days after he criticized the finance industry for worrying too much about climate change, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Kirk, the head of responsible investing for the bank’s asset management unit, had slammed environmental “hyperbole,” complaining that he has repeatedly had to deal with “some nut job telling me about the end of the world.”
HSBC said in a statement that it would not comment on individual employee’s situations. Kirk didn’t respond to messages requesting comment.
The Financial Times first reported the move, citing people with knowledge of the process and saying Kirk is suspended while the bank conducts an internal investigation and. The bank has already distanced itself from Kirk’s comments, with Chief Executive Noel Quinn calling them “inconsistent” with HSBC’s strategy.
“Climate change is not a financial risk that we need to worry about,” Kirk said Thursday in a 15-minute conference presentation. “Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years, Amsterdam’s been six meters underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it.”
Kirk, who was previously with Deutsche Bank, has worked at HSBC since early 2020 and took on his current role last year, where he is responsible for integrating ESG opportunities and risks in his unit. He also took aim at former Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney and other policymakers for talking up the risk from climate change.
A panel of climate scientists backed by the United Nations warned in a report last month that the world may be on track to warm fast enough to transform life and societies around the world.