Banking on Climate Change Report Identifies Biggest Fossil Fuel Bankers
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The report titled, ‘Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Report Card 2019,’ shows that major banks continue to invest heavily in fossil fuel exploration and infrastructure expansion.

The 33 largest global banks have provided close to USD 2 trillion to fossil fuel companies between 2016-2018, with banks located in the US accounting for 37% of global fossil fuel finance.

The authors urge banks to commit, among other actions, to phase out all financing for fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, on an explicit timeline that is aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

19 March 2019: A report by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and other NGOs ranks the world’s biggest banks according to their investments in fossil fuel finance, and outlines actions for banks to align their investment strategies with the target to halve global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.

The tenth annual fossil fuel report titled, ‘Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Report Card 2019,’ shows that 33 global banks have provided close to USD 2 trillion in financing to fossil fuel companies between 2016-2018. Developed by RAN, in partnership with BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club and Honor the Earth, among others, the Report Card rates banks’ performances based on their policies and financing practices.

The publication identifies US banks collectively as the biggest source of funding for fossil fuel expansion since the Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted, accounting for 37% of all global fossil fuel financing. They include the four biggest global bankers of fossil fuels: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. The three largest Canadian banks, RBC, TD and Scotiabank also rank among the 12 largest fossil fuel bakers that the report calls the “dirty dozen.” Only three banks of the dirty dozen are from outside North America.

In a US national day of action on 10 April, activists across the country urged consumers and politicians to hold banks accountable for their financing practices, and banks themselves to align their behavior with the Paris Agreement. Identifying JPMorgan Chase as “the world’s worst funder of fossil fuels,” they engaged in protests from coast to coast, and disrupted the House Financial Services Committee hearing, ‘Holding Megabanks Accountable,’ in which Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified.

In other countries, the report identifies as top bankers of fossil fuels Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays in Europe, MUFG in Japan, and Bank of China. What banks must do, stresses the report, is to align their overall fossil fuel policies and practices with the most prudent emissions pathway detailed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report, which calls for emissions to be almost halved by 2030 and effectively reduced to zero by 2050. The authors call for the following actions:

  • Commit to phase out all financing for fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, on an explicit timeline that is aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C;
  • Prohibit all financing for all fossil fuel expansion projects and for companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure;
  • Prohibit all financing for all projects in tar sands oil, Arctic oil and gas, ultra-deepwater oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, and liquefied natural gas, and all companies with operations or expansion plans in these subsectors;
  • Prohibit all financing for all projects in coal mining or coal power, and all companies with operations or expansion plans in these subsectors;
  • Fully respect all human rights, particularly the rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to their water and lands and the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), as articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); and
  • Prohibit all financing for projects and companies that abuse human rights, including indigenous rights.

Banks in the US, Europe and Asia provided almost USD 2 trillion to fossil fuel companies between 2016-2018, with USD 600 billion to companies that are expanding fossil fuels, the authors alert, when “there is no room for new fossil fuels in the world’s carbon budget.” The report serves as a reminder to the parties and signatories to the Paris Agreement, including on “making” finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low-emissions and climate-resilient development. [RAN Press Release] [Publication: Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Report Card 2019]

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