It’s Friday, December 16, and Europe’s biggest bank says it will stop financing new oil and gas projects.

Following years of pressure, Europe’s largest bank says it will stop funding new oil and gas projects.

London-based HSBC’s new policy, announced on Wednesday, bars new lending or finance to projects “pertaining to new oil and gas fields and related infrastructure.” However, HSBC says it will still offer corporate finance and advisory services to businesses in the energy sector, as long as those clients are aligned with the bank’s greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030 and have plans to decarbonize by 2050.

“We’re committed to supporting and financing the transition to a secure net zero future,” HSBC said in a press release.

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Environmental advocates from a global coalition of nonprofits pushing banks to end fossil fuel financing hailed the announcement as a major victory. Many smaller banks like La Banque Postale in France have much more ambitious climate policies, but HSBC is one of the world’s first major banks to restrict fossil fuel financing in this way.

“What’s significant about HSBC is it’s one of the biggest fossil fuel expanders,” Aditi Sen, climate and energy director for the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network told me. According to her organization, the bank has provided some $130 billion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, making it the third-biggest fossil fuel financier among European banks. She said HSBC’s new protocol could “send a signal” worldwide — particularly to the four U.S. banks that are responsible for about a quarter of global fossil fuel financing.

Still, Sen added that the ideal policy would go beyond HSBC’s to bar all financing for companies that support the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, rather than just financing tied to specific oil and gas projects. The Rainforest Action Network says the latter accounts for just a tiny fraction — about 4 percent — of HSBC’s total fossil fuel funding; most of the rest is general “corporate finance” that companies can use as they see fit.

HSBC’s move follows other steps the bank has taken to boost sustainability, including a target set last year to phase out all financing for thermal coal — the kind burned for electricity — by 2040. In February, the bank said it would push for a 34 percent reduction in emissions from the oil and gas projects it finances by 2030, as well as a 75 percent reduction in emissions intensity from its utility clients.

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