50-page report on the alarming inadequacy of banks' response to the climate crisis


Aktives Mitglied
22 Dezember 2017
Ich nutze hier die Möglichkeit J√©r√©my Desir-Webers Bericht (im Zuge seines Rücktritts von HSBC in französisch veröffentlicht) hier zu teilen - da dieser gerade ins Englische übersetzt wurde und damit endlich einer breiteren Öffentlichkeit zugänglich ist.

(Link to the Jeremys report:

Erklärung zum Bericht (Preface)

...And although these virgin lands that are about to be crushed, these fragile lives that are about to be drowned, may never see their future flourish, capitalism is indeed dead in its essence, as a concept and structuring force of our affects. The sooner we put down our weapons with humility in front of this unavoidable reality, the more densely life will have a chance to regenerate in its diversity.

The demonstration? Of course, the rise of capitalism is inseparable from the first forms of globalized exchange, the most significant of which was the professionalized slavery of the triangular trade between Europe, the coasts of West Africa and America. Capitalism then established itself as the dominant structure of our civilizations with the Industrial Revolution. The economic concepts, or ideological tendencies, that theorized it were expressed in 1776 with The Wealth of Nations from Adam Smith, founding the intellectual act of liberalism. The "invisible hand" is postulated as « a self-regulatory mechanism induced by the meeting of supply and demand in decentralized markets », and where the blind spot of the work lies in the omission of slavery, even though it is the main source of enrichment for the merchants of Glasgow, where Professor Smith comes to learn the essential aspects of what he knows in economics. This leads Gaël Giraud to write that « in other words, the "invisible hand" is a black hand, which remained invisible to the eyes of the "enlightened" analyst that Smith was. »

Since then, capitalism and its various liberal trends, have rested on three highly interdependent pillars:

  • Private property, including means of production;
  • Free trade on markets;
  • Free and undistorted competition.

For centuries, from Proudhon to Makhno, passing through Pelloutier or Ferrer, both creators of concepts and practices of solidarity, reciprocity and complementarity, it was from the ranks of libertarians, artisans of civil disobedience to revolutionary struggles, that the first radical critiques of capitalism emerged, and the first claims for a fairer society were violently wrested. These artisans of the methodical denunciation and destruction of capitalism are heroic in many ways. In my opinion, they stand out for the almost exclusively intuitive avant-gardism of their resistance against this system of totalitarian oppression.

Today, the unprecedented ecological and climatic crises faced by living beings, including humanity, have been modeled, studied and confirmed for nearly 50 years. The most advanced state of scientific research is able to read this lasting alteration of our planet in the atmosphere, sediments, rocks and ice. For the first time in its history, man is able to know with an international unanimity the precise causes of its near extinction, but also the trajectories to be followed drastically if he wants to avoid it. In November 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a special report on the effects of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. This report responds to the invitation from the 195 member countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), contained in the decision of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to adopt the Paris Agreement signed in December 2015.

The recommendations of this last report are striking, almost revolutionary, for anyone taking the pain to understand their consequences, despite turns of phrase sufficiently polished to be taken up by all the highest authorities of capitalism, foremost among them the banks. It was at that moment that the contradiction from which they could no longer escape was set up, as they were trapped in a context of neutrality of net CO2 emissions by 2050, to which they had officially subscribed:

  • ¬´ D.7.1. Partnerships involving non-state public and private actors, institutional investors, the banking system, civil society and scientific institutions would facilitate actions and responses consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5¬∞C (very high confidence). ¬ª

In 2014, the IPCC already wrote in its recommendations that:

  • ¬´ Effective climate change mitigation will not be achieved if each agent (individual, institution or country) acts independently in its own selfish interest (see International cooperation and Emissions trading), suggesting the need for collective action. ¬ª

The IPCC's conceptual revolutions that can be deduced are twofold: (1) natural science can and must produce recommendations with social and human dimensions, based on its physically measurable findings (2) partnership and collective action, needed with a very high confidence by the international scientific community, are incompatible with the third pillar of capitalism: free and undistorted competition. Derogating from this rule is explicitly illegal in the banking sector, while the IPCC quietly suggests its immediate abolition through international cooperation. The recent Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) following the "One Planet Summit", bringing together financial supervisors and central banks to support the sector in a transition compatible with the Paris Agreement, did not suggest less in their April 2019 Recommendations.

Also in terms of institutional responses, a few weeks before the COP 21, in September 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said that « climate change will threaten financial resilience and long-term prosperity. While there is still time to act, the window of opportunity is limited and shrinking [...] We will need market collaboration to maximize their impact.» He also announced in this founding speech, « Breaking the tragedy of the horizon », the future creation of an industry-led group: Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). This working group, chaired by Michael R. Bloomberg, aims to « undertake a coordinated assessment of what constitutes efficient and effective disclosure and design a set of recommendations for voluntary company financial disclosures of climate-related risks [...]». In their recommendation dated of June 2017, only one quantitative metric of interest is suggested by them and placed at the heart of their climate risk disclosure scheme: GHG emissions and carbon footprint.

Two years later, in July 2019, the TCFD admitted this terrible admission of powerlessness that: ¬´ Given the urgent and unprecedented changes needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Task Force is concerned that not enough companies are disclosing information about their climate-related risks and opportunities. ¬ª This was entirely predictable given the alarming absence of any form of legal or economic sanction in these endogamous, complacent and voluntary initiatives. It is also with the greatest sluggishness that this report refers to another one written by the United Nations, where we learn that ¬´ global greenhouse gas emissions have to peak by 2020 and then decline rapidly thereafter to limit the increase in the global average temperature to no more than 1.5¬∞C [...]. However, based on current policies and commitments, „global emissions are not even estimated to peak by 2030‚Äîlet alone by 2020.“¬ª

Thus, the only legitimate institutions to support the highest authorities of a « capitalism gone mad » in eco-responsible constraints are powerless in the face of an uncontrollable private sector, hostile to the slightest forms of regulation. Why is it that banks and the largest listed multinationals are so reluctant to even track their GHG emissions, and therefore the carbon impact of their financial statements? Because none of these firms wants to publicly reveal the deadly counterpart for the Earth and Humans of their profits and valuations, which are increasingly disconnected from any physical reality. Moreover, it would give an indisputable measure of the toxicity of an ever more energy-intensive free trade, despite the fact that it is the second pillar of capitalism.

Concerning the first pillar, undoubtedly the most difficult to question as it unleashes passions, even in the camp of those whom capitalism oppresses more than it enriches, the emptiness of its theoretical justifications is gradually brought to light by an energetic approach of growth that can only tend to become popular. Once this observation is established and the links forged by the incompatibility of the other two pillars with the objectives of carbon neutrality by 2050, even the most charismatic ideologues will no longer be able to designate private property as anything other than a theft. A theft from the peoples who support these common goods and are condemned to reap only a fraction of their benefits, but also from living species whose mass extinction will soon enough make the most irresponsible and unconscious understand what their lack means for our fragile ecosystems.

In other words, the three pillars on which the "progress" of our civilizations has been based have systematically obscured, voluntarily or not, the notion of primary and human energy in their value chains, thereby subjecting them to uncontrollable and distorted arbitrages. Economics, despite its willingness to disguise itself as a natural science and therefore indisputable outside the most knowledgeable circles, has allowed itself to omit the physical sciences from its financial equations. This filthy ignorance actually makes the Earth pay the price irreversibly, as well as a remnant of a humanity, reduced to the state of « waste ».

I come to the point of this letter. This one goes through a brief description of my personal background.

First of all, about my academic formation. It is based on Mathematics, from the classe préparatoire to the grande école d’ingénieur, at the Mines de Saint-Etienne. After a first year of core modules, I undertake Data Science coupled with Big Data electives in my 2nd year, then move on to a double degree on the 3rd year in the "M.Sc. in Risk Management and Financial Engineering" at Imperial College London.

The ambition being to become a quantitative analyst, or quant. These engineers and researchers model financial problems: from derivatives pricing to trading strategies and risk management. Deciding to push further the mathematical component that had led me there as I was partially disappointed by the technical content of this master's degree, I decided to pursue my studies by one of the best formation in financial mathematics: le M2 "Probability and Finance", co-habilitated by UPMC and Ecole Polytechnique (Paris-VI).

Three years later, here I am in London, at HSBC’s headquarters, where I have been working for almost a year as a quant in the risk department. I independently validate the algorithmic trading strategies developed by the front office, from data quality to governance and algorithm performance. After several months of intense media exposure regarding worldwide social and ecological crises, I can no longer be satisfied with these few voluntary experiences, even though I deeply believed in them. This new trend of "Data For Good" in partnership with NGOs and charities, the nth anesthetic of good conscience on a infected wound we ignore, whose most sincere actors never question the alienating foundations of our civilization. Even civil disobedience with so-called "radical" methods of Extinction Rebellion in which I took part in April, was obviously not sufficient enough. My employer's grossly disguised passivity in the face of this lately advertised disaster, especially following the symbolic farce of a "state of climate emergency" declared by the UK Parliament on the 1st of May, has confirmed my intuitions. A passive and complacent helplessness in the face of the ongoing disaster.

That is why I prepared a 50-page report on the alarming inadequacy of banks' response to the climate crisis, as well as several recommendations, and forwarded it Monday 15th of July, to my team leader, PhD in Physics and former quantitative trader, now supervising model validation. This ultimate summary of indisputable facts and analysis on the urgency of our need to act drastically with courage, also emphasizes the institutional responses given by the banking sector. In addition to the acknowledged inefficiency and impotence of the measures and structures developed by regulators, supervisors and central banks (TCFD - NGFS), it is the initiatives taken by HSBC, as illustrative of the private banking sector as a whole, that are detailed and subject to their own contradictions. Following a methodical description of the inadequacy of the banking and financial sector's responses to the climate emergencies of our time, the commitments recommended by the three most legitimate bodies to issue (TCFD-NGFS-GIEC), theoretically recognized by the banks in a non-binding framework they have signed, for which they do not fail to communicate emphatically, are recalled. Finally, three gradual steps of feasibility for implementing these recommendations are proposed according to personal criteria, this time only. These steps consist in: TEACH massively - RESEARCH abundantly - ACT courageously.

As I suspected, several days after the submission of this report, much of which should be nothing more than a reminder to scientists, especially those attached to the international financial system, the consequences are very limited and we have not discussed it again.

I expect no more from my close meeting with one of the bank's most senior representatives, the global head of risk strategy, first-hand participant in TCFD's recommendations. Following this deliberately dense, quantified and documented alarming call, in order to cast no doubt on its credibility, I think that at best one will apologize for a form of impotence in front of the need for drastic coordinated actions. At worst, I will be shown the direction of the door.

I am willing to take that risk and make it heard loudly by my community.

Similar to me, the majority of quant or data scientists – two titles I can claim – think they are very rational and guided by science. However, we are unfortunately ignoring the resounding and increasingly acute alarms of the international scientific community. And this has been the case for decades. Filled with modesty and humility, the most honest of us thought that this was not our job: "we are not economists, we must not commit ourselves to the decisions of our management." And it is precisely through this keyhole that our consciousness has vanished. If some doubts persisted, particularly thanks to the millions invested by the most hostile to the consequences of a radical awareness of the ecological crisis, these doubts are now impossible.

Once again, I am ready to take the risk of confronting my employer with his own shortcomings. I am ready to assume the consequences, while diffusing the absurdity of this situation to the most of us via an absolutely non-violent version of the propaganda by the fact.

Today is the Earth Overshoot Day, estimated for the first time since its creation in July: on Monday 29th of July 2019, the consumption of humanity's resources for the year exceeds the Earth's capacity to regenerate these resources for that year.

In the face of this international conspiracy of financial powers to maintain this murderous, capitalist obscurantism and to numb the conscience of its best intellectual resources before the causes and consequences of our ecological and climate crisis, I hereby take the decision to resign publicly through this open letter. I am unable, knowing the above, to perpetrate this terrible lie and still look my conscience in the eyes, and therefore I cease today to collaborate with this bloody totalitarianism. My dear colleagues, those who know me and will be more directly threatened by the consequences of my action, I hope you will understand that it is absolutely not your personal selves I am trying to harm, but this straitjacket of illusions that is crushing us.

I also invite my community of researchers and engineers, mainly those working in systemically important banks, but also among tech giants, those for whom the sirens of money have not finished to bewitch their sense of ethics and their love of science, to declare a general strike on Friday 2nd of August 2019, to renew each Friday until an international cooperation strategy is adopted by their employer (use the three T-R-A stages from the above-mentioned report as a basis for further discussions).

I also invite as many people as possible, convinced of the vital need for a grouped and organized resistance against this system of oppression which is at war against the living, to come and swell the ranks and hearts stained by the slanderous propaganda of our last revolutionaries, by initiating or participating in the demonstrations on Saturday 3rd of August 2019, to renew each Saturday. The Yellow Vests social movement may be the last major demonstration denouncing the daily and suffocated crimes of an oligarchic, obscurantist and oppressive system for the Earth and Humans.

Concerning the future to which I aspire, and to respond in advance to the poorest minds who probably believe that a radical and coherent revolt would consist in fleeing into nature with the goal of self-sufficiency: I will not do so, for the moment. First of all because, as Yves-Marie Abraham points out: « "Civilization" no longer has any place outside where it would be possible to take refuge. In addition, eco-communities and "villages in transition" do not threaten the existing order in any way. They leave it free and may even help to strengthen it by contributing to the economic revitalization of the countryside it has devastated. » And secondly because as a scientist aware of the state of our world, with a cognitive and cultural background capable of methodically deconstructing the monster that our illusions of infinite growth have nourished, I believe I have a usefulness within the last bastions of resistance available in our civilization: education and research; more precisely through scientific activism working towards a post-carbon human society. The only international lighthouse in the night of the narcissistic appetites of our modern civilization is represented by the IPCC.

This is also why I would like to solemnly ask the IPCC to examine my candidacy for their work, in particular concerning the review of the state of the art on the adaptation of the financial sector to a carbon neutral world by 2050. If possible, I would like to lead my contribution from the Ecole des Mines de Saint-Etienne, where the human component of our student experience has willingly persisted in the face of the expansionist productivism of our Parisian counterparts. My convictions are clear and clearly divisive – at the beginning, because the final point is to cooperate despite the strong reluctance of those who have nothing to gain from it –, just like a literal reading of your recommendations, which I have only tried to highlight at my best. As my ethics make me renounce to a much more lucrative and socially respected sector than teaching and research, I hope to convince you that despite my position, I will never stop applying the highest standards of rigor that you recommend.

To my mother whom I love and who left us too soon. It will be one year on Sunday 4th of August 2019 at noon. This courage, today, comes from you.

Jérémy Desir-Weber

Link to the report:
Zuletzt bearbeitet: