HSBC is eyeing the mainland and India for investment opportunities in renewable energy projects in an attempt to become 'carbon neutral' by next year, the banking giant said yesterday. The process would entail the world's third-largest bank fully compensating for all the emissions it produces. Last year, HSBC is estimated to have generated 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas responsible for climate change - through activities such as energy consumption and business travel. Late last year, it pledged to become the first banking corporation to go carbon neutral through investments in energy-efficiency initiatives and projects aimed at limiting emissions. Aside from buying emission quotas from carbon-trading markets, the bank is considering direct investments in projects in emerging economies that could cut emissions at source. 'We are very keen on launching these projects in developing economies where we have a large presence and have incurred emissions in those markets,' said Jon Williams, senior manager of the London-based Environmental Risk Unit of HSBC Holdings. Markets being considered include China, which has set ambitious renewable-energy targets to be achieved by 2010, and India. Both offer cost-effective projects to offset the bank's emissions. About half the 550,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions generated by HSBC in 2003 arose from operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Last year, it is estimated that operations in Hong Kong alone produced 104,967 tonnes of CO2. Francis Sullivan, who was seconded to the bank from WWF International to provide advice on environmental issues, said it remained a challenge to reduce emissions generated by essential business travel. Last year, the bank's staff travelled more than 636 million kilometres, yielding 88,000 tonnes of CO2. He said one person flying from London to Hong Kong created 2.76 tonnes of CO2, which would cost about $120 to offset in Europe's emissions-trading market. Greater use of video-conferencing would be encouraged, he said.