May 6, 2022

The accusation comes after the regulator warns of a crackdown on misleading environmental ads. 

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has accused HSBC of misleading customers in its adverts on the company’s green initiatives, according to a draft recommendation seen by the Financial Times

The ASA’s complaints focus on two of HSBC’s ads which were placed at bus stops in Bristol and London in October 2021. 

The first ad stated that HSBC would be providing $1 trillion in financing to its clients to help them transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

The second ad, meanwhile, advertised a pledge by HSBC to plant up to two million trees which would trap 1.25 million tonnes of carbon. 

However, the ASA argued this was misleading customers as to an overall positive environmental contribution from HSBC. 

The authority cited that HSBC’s current financed emissions equated to 35.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year for oil and gas projects. The ASA also noted that HSBC plans to continue financing thermal coal mining until 2040. 

In response to the accusations, HSBC said that it was transitioning to net zero and was currently taking action to reduce its financed emissions. The company further highlighted the $750bn to $1trn in financing it planned to use to help customers transition by 2030. 

The accusations follow announcements by the ASA in September 2021, that it would be cracking down on “misleading and socially irresponsible” environment advertising. 

The ASA did add, however, that it would also be supporting companies and industries to drive a greener agenda in advertising.

Watch Minerva’s briefing on greenwashing

Last Updated: 6 May 2022