News briefs: HSBC pledges $1 trillion in green financing

Plus, whales find fine dining in NYC, China details plans to reach carbon neutral

Watch this: The Countdown launch, a call to action on climate. The Countdown Global Launch features more than 50 speakers, activists, actors and musicians in five curated sessions of actionable and science-backed ideas, paired with moments of wonder, inspiration and optimism. Countdown is a collaboration powered by TED and Future Stewards.

HSBC: $1 trillion in green financing

HSBC (HSBC) will target net zero carbon emissions across its entire customer base by 2050 at the latest, and provide between $750 billion and $1 trillion in financing to help clients make the transition, Chief Executive Noel Quinn told Reuters. In an exclusive interview, Reuters quoted Quinn as saying, “Covid has been a wake-up call to us all, including me personally. We have seen how fragile the global economy is to a major event, in this case a health event, and it brings home the reality of what a major climate event could do.” According to the report, HSBC aims to achieve net zero emissions in its own operations by 2030. Reuters also noted that “while other UK banks such as NatWest (NWG) have set similar net zero goals, HSBC’s aim to achieve it across its huge Asia-focused client base is one of the most significant pledges made by a global lender to date.”

Three Rockefellers say banks must stop financing fossil fuels

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and other big banks should use their lending power to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, Daniel Growald, Peter Gill Case and Valerie Rockefeller — fifth-generation members of the Rockefeller family — wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times. “One hundred years ago, as a deadly influenza gripped the world and the stock market dropped precipitously, our great-grandfather John D. Rockefeller Jr. began investing in New York banks to diversify the family’s business away from fossil fuels in the midst of the economic uncertainty,” they wrote. The authors continue, they have “started an organization, BankFWD. This network of individuals, businesses and foundations will use their banking choices and public standing to persuade major banks to phase out their financing of fossil fuels and lead on climate matters.”

Young whales find fine dining in waters off NYC

If you’re young and hungry, the place to go is New York City — even if you weigh 25 tons and have a blowhole, according to a report from The Associated Press. Whale watch captains and scientists around America’s most populous city say recent years have seen a tremendous surge in the number of whales observed in the waters around the Big Apple, the AP reports. “Many of the whales are juvenile humpbacks, and scientists say they’re drawn to New York by an abundance of the small fish they love to eat, the menhaden. Menhaden are small, schooling fish that humpbacks relish, and environmentalists believe cleaner waters and stricter conservation laws have increased their numbers near New York City,” according to the report.

China’s pledge to be carbon neutral: all GHG plus carbon sinks

At a conference on Monday outlining China’s plan to reach its goal to be carbon neutral by 2060, a senior Chinese climate researcher clarified that pledge will include all greenhouse gases, not just CO₂, Bloomberg reports. According to the report, He Jiankun, chair of the academic committee at the Institute of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, said China should announce more ambitious contributions to the Paris climate accord including reducing its carbon intensity by more than 65% from 2005 levels and aiming for a higher share of non-fossil fuel energy sources by 2030. Bloomberg also reports China will use natural carbon sinks such as vegetation, soil and oceans that absorb more carbon than they release, as well as large-scale carbon capture, utilization and storage.