The move by HSBC – Europe’s largest bank and a major funder of palm oil companies – follows an investigation by Greenpeace International that linked it to companies destroying Indonesia’s rainforests.  Hundreds of thousands of people joined the campaign to change the bank’s policies, including 30,000 HSBC customers.
Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, said:
“Our rainforest is being carved up at a frightening rate and high street banks all over the world are funding this destruction. HSBC's commitment to break its ties to destructive palm oil companies is a good first step and Greenpeace will be watching closely to make sure it delivers. This also sends a clear signal that other global banks must follow suit.”
In its new policy, HSBC has made stronger commitments to refuse finance for companies that clear forests and peatlands. If adopted across the banking sector, the policy would play a part in ending the role of banks in financing destructive palm oil companies.
The new policy will require HSBC customers to:
- Commit to protecting natural forest and peat by 30 June 2017.
- Identify and protect forests and peat in new plantations prior to commencing new development.
- Provide independent verification of their No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation commitments by 31 December 2018.
A shift towards making palm oil financing more sustainable is long overdue. The rate of deforestation in Indonesia has overtaken Brazil. Last year, orangutans were moved from ‘endangered’ to ‘critically endangered’ on the IUCN’s listings.  A recent study estimated that smoke from forest fires, which are fuelled by plantation companies clearing forests and draining peatlands, caused more than 100,000 premature deaths across South East Asia in 2015. 
A first critical test for the banking sector will be its response to South Korean conglomerate POSCO Daewoo, which is preparing to clear an area of Papuan rainforest larger than Cambridge.  New satellite images of PT Bio Inti Agrindo (a subsidiary of POSCO Daewoo) taken on 13 January 2017 show an estimated 4,000 hectares of rainforest crisscrossed by newly constructed roads, a key indicator of imminent plantation development. 
Research by Greenpeace showed that in the past five years, 13 banks – including HSBC, BNP Paribas and Standard Chartered – have been involved in providing POSCO Daewoo and its subsidiaries with loans totalling nearly US$3.6bn and bonds totalling over US$5bn. 
“It is clear from these shocking images that HSBC’s client POSCO Daewoo intends to destroy a vast area of rainforest. This is the critical test for HSBC. It cannot in good conscience continue to fund POSCO Daewoo if it continues to carve up Papua’s rainforest.” said Annisa.
Greenpeace will today be writing to all of the other banks exposed by the ‘Dirty Bankers’ investigation to ask what action they will be taking, in light of HSBC’s new policy, to ensure they are not funding deforestation. 
Notes to Editors
 HSBC’s new deforestation policy - www.hsbc.com/~/media/hsbc-com/our-approach/sustainability/finance/hsbc-agricultural-commodities-policy-feb-2017.pdf
 Greenpeace’s ‘Dirty Bankers’ report - http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/Campaign-reports/Forests-Reports/Dirty-Bankers/
 IUCN orangutan rating - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/17975/0
 Harvard/Colombia study of Haze mortality - http://environment.harvard.edu/news/faculty-news/southeast-asia-haze-caused-over-100000-deaths-study-says
 HSBC is involved in loans which have yet to mature to various subsidiaries of POSCO Daewoo totalling US$2.4bn. It is not lending to POSCO Daewoo plantation company PT BIA.
 Satellite images showing clearance in PT BIA are available here: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/sites/files/gpuk/posco-daewoo-satellite-images.pdf
 The banks Greenpeace has linked to funding POSCO Daewoo are - ANZ, Bank Of Tokyo- Mitsubishi, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse, DBS, HSBC, ING, Mizuho Bank, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui, UOB
 The banks included in Greenpeace’s ‘Dirty Bankers’ report are - ABN Amro, ANZ, Bank Of America, Bank Of Tokyo- Mitsubishi, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Credit Suisse, DBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Mizuho Bank, Rabobank, Standard Chartered, Sumitomo Mitsui, UOB
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Graham Thompson – firstname.lastname@example.org or 07801 212 960
Greenpeace UK Press Office – email@example.com or 020 7865 8255
Annisa Rahmawati, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia. Mobile: +62 8111097527
Igor O'Neill, International Media for Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaign - firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile +62 811 1923 721