March 22nd, 2019 by Joshua S Hill
A new report published this week shows that 33 global banks provided $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement at the end of 2015 and that the amount of fossil fuel financing has increased in each of the past two years.
The new report, Banking on Climate Change 2019, is the tenth annual fossil fuel report card and the first-ever analysis of funding from the world’s major private banks for the fossil fuel sector as a whole. The report was released Wednesday by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth, and endorsed by over 160 organizations around the world.
In addition to finding that 33 of the world’s top banks are supplied $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the report also found that of that $1.9 trillion, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively expanding fossil fuels, highlighting business-as-usual practices that fly in the face of the latest scientific warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which warned that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
That same report not only outlined the dangers ahead if we remain committed to business-as-usual practices but also highlighted the fact that we need $2.4 trillion worth of clean energy investments each year up to 2035 to stave off the worst of the effects of climate change. That so much money is still being funneled towards the fossil fuel energy sector speaks volumes about how banks and energy companies are responding to the need for renewable energy.
“Alarming is an understatement. This report is a red alert,” said Alison Kirsch, Climate and Energy Lead Researcher at Rainforest Action Network. “The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future. It’s an insult to logic, to science and to humanity that since the groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement, financing for fossil fuels continues to rise. If banks don’t rapidly phase out their support for dirty energy, planetary collapse from man-made climate change is not just probable — it is imminent.”
Tellingly, the report also found that the four biggest global bankers of the fossil fuel energy sector are all US banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. This is not to say that banks in the rest of the world aren’t also making nuisances of themselves, with Barclays of England, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) of Japan, and RBC of Canada all continuing to heavily finance the industry. But, as highlighted by the authors of the report, “The massive economic weight of the US oil and gas industry can be easily seen in the fact that the top four bankers of climate change are all headquartered in the United States” and, further, two more US banks — Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — serve to fill out the top 12, meaning that “all six of the US banking giants are in the top dirty dozen fossil banks” and “account for an astonishing 37% of global fossil fuel financing since the Paris Agreement was adopted.”