The Big Banks Are Committing Major Crimes Against Our Climate
By Alison Kirsch
At the start of next week, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the U.N.'s negotiating body on climate change, will meet in Germany to discuss next steps after the historic agreement by 195 countries to curb global climate change to 1.5° Celsius, or 2° at most—an agreement whose only logical conclusion is that the world cannot afford expansion of the fossil fuel industry.
Various players in the financial industry have talked a big game on their commitments to the Paris agreement. But their business practices prove otherwise.
According to the new report Funding Tar Sands: Private Banks vs. the Paris Climate Agreement, in the first three quarters of 2017, major international banks have financed the extraction and transportation of tar sands at levels one and a half times higher than in the whole of 2016.
How can it be that in the last nine months, $32 billion has gone to an extreme fossil fuel whose development is flatly incompatible with meeting the goals of the Paris agreement?
Moreover, banks continue to stand behind their clients whose proposed tar sands projects, from Teck Resources' Frontier open-pit mine, to Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline, would further damn our climate and infringe upon indigenous rights.
When President Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, he drew a line: the Paris agreement's goal of limiting climate change to 1.5°C on one side, and his administration on the other.
On what side of the line do banks fall? Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said, "I absolutely disagree with the administration on this issue." And yet, JPMorgan Chase has increased its financing for tar sands this year, banking on major companies as they acquire new tar sands assets. Meanwhile, the bank's policy grade comes in at a disappointing D+. JPMorgan Chase's actions declare its support not for the Paris agreement and the world's desperate need to stymie climate change, but rather for the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel agenda.
Financial institutions have shown that they are able to make significant steps toward aligning their businesses with the goals of the Paris agreement. Three weeks ago, BNP Paribas published a new policy restricting its financing for tar sands oil, among other extreme fossil fuels, in a move that the Wall Street Journal called "one of the clearest signs yet the banking industry is re-evaluating its relationship with the oil sector."
It's a relationship that direly needs reevaluation. Banks can't keep funding business as usual expansion of fossil fuels, especially when it comes to the carbon bomb that is the tar sands.
Like it or not, we can't meet the goals of the Paris agreement without the financial industry on board, especially as governments like Trump's loosen the reins on the fossil fuel industry. Banks must take the immediate step of exiting the tar sands sector. Independent of governments, these major multinational institutions must say they're on board with the Paris agreement—and then prove it.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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