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HSBC, WRI, WWF Partner to Scale Next-Generation Climate Solutions

The US$100M initiative builds on the organizations’ individual efforts to accelerate a shift to a net-zero global economy.

Last week, as NRDC was launching a landmark report that quantifies the astronomical economic and health costs of climate change in the US, HSBC, World Resources Institute (WRI) and WWF unveiled their Climate Solutions Partnership (CSP) — which aims to unlock barriers to finance for innovators developing climate solutions. The partnership’s three workstreams focus on startups developing carbon-cutting technologies, projects that protect and restore biodiversity, and initiatives to help the transition to renewable energy in Asia.  

The CSP aims to bring emerging climate solutions to commercial viability and scale by supporting sustainable projects that would otherwise face barriers to finance due to insufficient policy and regulatory frameworks, gaps between demand and supply, or a lack of mature measurement tools and business cases. By focusing on on-the-ground projects, the partnership’s goal is to catalyze systemic solutions to address climate change, while also delivering for people and nature in key markets.

“The transition to net zero must be driven by cutting-edge science and innovation — and also collaboration. Finding the best solutions for clean energy, clean transport and environmental protection is vital, as is making them commercially viable,” says HSBC Group Chief Executive Noel Quinn. “Our Climate Solutions Partnership will make a tangible contribution towards those goals, combining our knowledge and resources to accelerate the pace of change towards a more sustainable future.”

The global initiative is backed by US$100 million of philanthropic funding over five years from HSBC. It forms part of HSBC’s climate strategy, first announced in October 2020 — the banking giant aims to align its provision of finance to net zero by 2050 or sooner, in line with the Paris Agreement goals; and to provide US$750 billion-$1 trillion of finance and investment by 2030 to support its customers in the net-zero transition. The bank has also pledged to work across the financial sector and beyond to accelerate solutions that will help avoid catastrophic climate change. 

The CSP will combine HSBC's financial expertise with the knowledge and experience of WRI, WWF and a network of local partners in scaling climate solutions. Together, the partners will collaborate to identify future business opportunities for sustainable innovations, and mobilize finance and harness supply-and-demand forces in commercial markets to scale net-zero solutions. 

The Climate Solutions Partnership will work to remove barriers and create incentives in three focus areas: 

  • Energy transition: The partnership includes renewables and/or energy-efficiency programs in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam — which combined account for more than 35% of the world’s power consumption. The goal is to support Asia’s energy sector’s shift towards renewables, and scale efficiency initiatives in key sectors such as healthcare, textiles and apparel. 

  • Nature-based solutions (NBS) and NBS Accelerator: Supporting more than 20 projects globally to protect and revitalize wetlands, mangroves and forests, and to promote sustainable agriculture. Working with a network of local partners, these projects will contribute to net-zero goals by better enabling natural CO~2~ capture, while increasing social and environmental resilience in markets most at risk from climate change. The NBS Accelerator is a joint initiative by the CSP that provides technical and financial expertise to a global network of organizations to help scale nature-based solutions.

  • Business innovation: Startups and next-generation technologies offer the potential to develop new approaches to cutting carbon emissions, but often face challenges to access the finance and business mentoring needed to scale. Through WWF’s Impactio collaboration platform, the partnership will help support business innovations to scale in collaboration with leading universities, research institutes, incubators and accelerators. The first pilot challenge, involving 18 startups from five markets, has just been completed; and the first live challenge commences later this year.

Manish Bapna, Interim President and CEO at WRI, said:

“Financial institutions have the reach and resources to advance climate solutions and policies to put the world on a more inclusive and sustainable trajectory. HSBC, with its high profile and global presence, can set an example by shifting its portfolio toward net zero and nature-positive investments. We are deeply pleased to be joining HSBC and WWF in this dynamic new partnership that will leverage each organization’s unique attributes. We can go further together than we can alone.”