Cairns student and snorkel guide calls out HSBC Bank “blatant greenwash” for claims to invest in Great Barrier Reef while investing in Adani’s coal
A 17 year old student from Port Douglas is taking on the greenwash of banking giant HSBC over misleading and deceptive advertisements that claim the bank is “investing in the future of the Great Barrier Reef“ while still investing billions of dollars in fossil fuels, including Adani Group companies who are funding the Carmichael coal mine.
Ava Shearer, currently completing year 12 in Cairns and working as a snorkel guide on the Great Barrier Reef, has lodged a complaint with the national advertising regulator Ad Standards over HSBC’s “Reef Credit” ads.
The complaint argues HSBC’s ads are misleading and deceptive because they claim that HSBC’s “Reef Credits'' program, aimed at reducing agricultural runoff, is “investing in the future of the Reef”, but the ads fail to disclose that HSBC is a major investor in fossil fuels.
HSBC has invested more than $110 billion in fossil fuels since the signing of the Paris agreement in 2015. The bank holds $65.8 million in bonds and $4.3 million in shares across Adani Group companies who are financing Adani’s Carmichael mine. These investments include close to $10 million in Adani Ports Special Economic Zone who control the Adani’s Abbot Point coal port, located on the Great Barrier Reef coast in Bowen, Queensland.
The advertising regulator “Ad Standards' requires Environmental claims in advertising to be truthful and factual representations that are not misleading and deceptive. Just one complaint under the voluntary environmental code since its establishment in 2011.
Ava Shearer, 17 year old snorkel guide and year 12 student in Port Douglas says: “HSBC and financial institutions who fuel the climate crisis by funding fossil fuel projects should not be allowed to get away with such blatant greenwash. HSBC is telling Australians that it is investing in the future of the Reef when in reality it is investing in the destruction of the Reef by funding Adani’s coal.
"HSBC has poured $110 billion into fossil fuel projects since 2016 and is investing in the Adani Group who is expanding its coal business and digging the Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland”
“I’ve lived in Port Douglas my whole life and my family works on the Reef and in local tourism. I have a blunt message for HSBC: Stop lying to the general public and funding fossil fuels and stop funding the Adani Group. They are killing our precious reef.”
"HSBC is doing more to prop up coal companies like Adani by investing in them than it is doing to help save the Great Barrier Reef. They need to be held accountable for their greenwash.”
“HSBC claims that it has a commitment to safeguarding the Great Barrier Reef are absurd. HSBC owns shares in Adani Ports who control Adani’s coal port that is literally on the Great Barrier Reef. Ships will soon depart Adani’s port carrying Adani’s coal through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Not only are these ships industrialising our precious reef but they are transporting coal, the leading cause of climate change that is killing the Great Barrier Reef.
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Photos of Ava Shearer and #StopAdani HSBC Bank protests are available here
Background on the complaint:
Ava’s complaint raises concerns that the HSBC ad is
misleading and deceptive by implying that HSBC is “investing in the future of the Great Barrier Reef” in a positive way. In reality the bank is having a negative impact on the future of the Great Barrier Reef due to HSBC’s large global investments in coal and fossil fuels.
misleading because it links to claims by HSBC’s Australian CEO that the bank has a ‘commitment to safeguarding the Great Barrier Reef” however HSBC’s investments in coal and fossil fuels are supporting industries which contribute to global warming and harm the Great Barrier Reef and this cannot be considered to be ‘a commitment to safeguarding the reef’.
deceptive by implying that HSBC is working to fix the biggest threat to the reef - climate change. Through its investments in fossil fuels, including investments in the Adani Group which is expanding its coal business, HSBC is contributing to and funding the biggest threat to the reef - climate change.
falsely claiming, with the statement “together we thrive”, that the reef will thrive through HSBCs ‘Reef Credits’ program, when in fact the Great Barrier Reef is not thriving and is at risk because of the burning of fossil fuels which HSBC invests in.
not a truthful and factual representation as it fails to clearly explain the significance of the environmental benefit of addressing water quality through the Reef Credits program. Substantial scientific evidence exists that improving water quality can only compensate for the reduced coral reef resilience in the face of climate change to a limited extent and over a limited timeframe. HSBC’s claim to be “investing in the future of the Great Barrier Reef'' is misleading as it lacks any disclaimer about the limited environmental benefit of addressing water quality in the face of climate change.
Misleading by using the statement “HSBC climate ambition” as this statement conflates the Reef Credits program with action to address climate change when in fact the Reef Credits program aims to address water quality and HSBCs investments in fossil fuels are the opposite of climate ambition.