Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges

Banks are taking greenwashing to a whole new level. Despite climate-conscious PR, they are still putting their money toward financing fossil fuel projects, according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report.

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In the last five years, while acceptance of climate change has gone more mainstream, the 60 largest commercial and private investment banks in the world financed the fossil fuel industry to a tune of nearly $4 trillion. At the same time, their glossy marketing promised things like “climate-conscious checking accounts” and “1% for the planet” credit cards. Despite some financial institutions pledging to achieve net-zero financed emissions, their strategies for doing so are vague.

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“Banks are admitting that fossil fuel companies are major climate emitters, but they are taking no immediate steps to phase out the financing of fossil fuels across the board,” said Ginger Cassady, executive director of Rainforest Action Network, as reported by Sierra Club. “Many of those banks are making 2050 commitments to align with the Paris Agreement when they need to act now on fossil fuels. Any bank that makes a ‘net zero by 2050’ policy commitment and then treats it as a license to continue with business as usual is guilty of greenwashing.”

The Banking on Climate Chaos report (formerly called Banking on Climate Change) has come out annually since 2012, and it provides one of the most comprehensive looks at how the fossil fuel industry is financed. This year’s 157-page report covers big finance’s relation to tar sands oil, Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, liquefied natural gas, coal mining and coal power.

JPMorgan Chase is the worst offender for five years running, according to the report. The bank directed $51.3 billion into fossil fuel projects last year. From 2016 to 2020, it lent or underwrote $317 billion to similar projects. On the plus side, JPMorgan Chase was slightly less heinous in 2020 than in the past and has pledged to bring its financing more in line with the Paris Agreement. Citibank came in as second worst, but was still 33% better than JPMorgan Chase.

+ Banking on Climate Chaos

Via Sierra Club

Image via Niek Verlaan

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