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HSBC faces backlash

30,000 HSBC customers call on their bank to stop funding deforestation
HSBC faces backlash

HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, is facing a customer backlash over its ongoing financing of palm oil companies destroying Indonesia’s rainforest.

Financing destruction

Three weeks ago Greenpeace exposed how, despite having policies which they claim ‘prohibit the funding of deforestation’, HSBC has been financing some of the most destructive palm oil producers in Indonesia, responsible for destroying scarce orangutan habitat, labour abuses and increasing fire risk through rainforest clearance and illegal drainage.

Since then, 120,000 people in the UK have signed a petition calling on HSBC to stop financing deforestation, including 30,000 HSBC customers.

‘When we launched this campaign, we were worried that people might be uncomfortable with getting involved if it was their bank lending money to companies that destroy rainforests. But it turns out that the opposite is true. People are particularly motivated when it’s their own bank doing the wrong thing. They want to get stuck in, and thousands of customers have sent a clear message to HSBC that they need to clean up their act. Judging by the first two weeks, HSBC are going to be under a lot of pressure from their customers to take deforestation seriously and sort this problem out quickly.’

Forest campaigner for Greenpeace UK

What customers think

Due to the unusually long-term, stable relationship between banks and their customers, Greenpeace decided to ask petition signatories whether they were HSBC customers or not – and 25% of the UK signatories have affirmed that they are.

Greenpeace also commissioned YouGov to poll UK adults on their attitudes to controversial lending practices by banks.

75% of those with their main bank account with HSBC said they would be concerned if their bank was ‘financially supporting companies who cut down trees in rainforest to assist palm oil production’, and 50% with their main bank account with HSBC said they would consider moving their account.

In addition to the petition, Greenpeace activists have visited over 60 branches of HSBC across the UK to speak to their customers about the bank’s ongoing funding of deforestation.

Click here to read Greenpeace International’s ‘Dirty Bankers’ report.

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