Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

World’s Biggest Banks Are Driving Climate Change, Pumping Billions Into Extreme Fossil Fuels

Climate

By Climate Denier Roundup

A report released Tuesday by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Sierra Club and Oil Change International provides the first look at bank financing for fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement, showing that the world's biggest banks are driving climate change by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into extreme fossil fuels.

The seventh edition of an annual report, Shorting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016, embarks on new territory to evaluate the bank policies and exposure of 25 U.S., European and Canadian banks in extreme fossil fuels—the most carbon intensive, financially risky and environmentally destructive sub-sectors. This includes coal mining, coal power, extreme oil (tar sands, Arctic oil, ultra-deep drilling) and North American liquefied natural gas export.

The report card, which also graded banks on their human rights policies, shows that banks performed poorly in all sectors. Levels of exposure were high across the board on the order of tens or hundreds of billions of finance for extreme fuel companies, demonstrating that banks are locking the world onto a path of major climate instability. Grades on policies were also poor, with an overall D average for the report card, showing that a vast majority of banks have no significant policies in place to stop funding extreme fossil fuels.

“In finance terms, 'short-selling' or 'shorting' is when an investor profits if a company or asset declines in value," Jason Opeña Disterhoft, senior campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, said. "It means betting on failure. After the Paris agreement, financing extreme fossil fuels amounts to shorting the climate. These bets are also at the expense of some of the most vulnerable communities living in fossil fuel 'sacrifice zones' around the world. We need banks to move now to help pivot the economy away from extreme fossil fuels for the sake of the planet and its people."

At a time when the world's nations have agreed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, leading financial institutions have continued business as usual investment in fossil fuels in direct contradiction of global consensus. In just the past three years, these banks have sunk $42 billion for companies active in coal mining; $154 billion for the 20 largest coal-fired power producers; $306 billion for companies that drill extreme oil; and $282 billion for companies building liquefied natural gas export infrastructure. If governments follow through on the Paris agreement and limit carbon emissions, these investments could likely result in stranded assets and significant losses.

The report card does reflect bank movement on coal mining, where 10 of the biggest U.S. and European banks committed to reduce funding for the coal mining sector in the last year. Based on their ability to quickly switch their stance on coal over the last year alone, banks are capable of making the critical choice to cut out extreme fossil fuel investments. Not only can they do it, it is a critical step to follow through on promises made in Paris to stabilize the climate.

“Many banks announced a move away from coal in the run up to COP21 and after, but most of these focused only on coal mining," Yann Louvel, BankTrack's climate and energy coordinator, said. "Our assessment clearly shows that they still have a long way to go to concretely exit this industry and even more for the other extreme fossil fuel sectors. None of these banks can claim to support the Paris agreement, to be aligned with a 2° scenario or to be fighting climate change—as we too often read in their sustainability reports—if they continue to finance these destructive sectors."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Carbon Dioxide Levels Set to Pass 400 ppm and Remain Above Symbolic Threshold Permanently

Court Documents Show Peabody Energy Funded Dozens of Climate Denial Groups

May Shatters Yet Another Monthly Heat Record as CO2 Levels Soar

Uncovered Documents Reveal MSNBC Show Worked to Promote Fracking

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Deserted view of NH24 near Akshardham Temple on day nine of the 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus on April 2, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is home to 21 of the world's 30 most polluted cities, but recently air pollution levels have started to drop dramatically as the second-most populated nation endures the second week of a 21-day lockdown amidst coronavirus fears, according to The Weather Channel.

Read More Show Less
A Unicef social mobilizer uses a speaker as she carries out public health awareness to prevent the spread and detect the symptoms of the COVID-19 coronavirus by UNICEF at Mangateen IDP camp in Juba, South Sudan on April 2. ALEX MCBRIDE / AFP / Getty Images

By Eddie Ndopu

  • South Africa is ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic in Africa.
  • Its townships are typical of high-density neighbourhoods across the continent where self-isolation will be extremely challenging.
  • The failure to eradicate extreme poverty is a threat beyond the countries in question.
Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. on Nov. 9, 2015. Al Drago / CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of two malarial drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, the respiratory infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, despite only anecdotal evidence that either is proven effective in treating or slowing the progression of the disease in seriously ill patients.

Read More Show Less
Some speculate that the dissemination of the Antarctic beeches or Nothofagus moorei (seen above in Australia) dates to the time when Antarctica, Australia and South America were connected. Auscape / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

A team of scientists drilled into the ground near the South Pole to discover forest and fossils from the Cretaceous nearly 90 million years ago, which is the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
The recovery of elephant seals is one of the "signs of hope" that scientists say show the oceans can recover swiftly if we let them. NOAA / CC BY 2.0

The challenges facing the world's oceans are well known: plastic pollution could crowd out fish by 2050, and the climate crisis could wipe out coral reefs by 2100.

Read More Show Less