A new report titled Banking on Climate Change 2019 reveals that 33 global banks have provided $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the adoption of the Paris climate accord at the end of 2015.
The report was developed by the 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.
The report reveals that the four biggest global bankers of fossil fuels are all U.S. banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America. Barclays of England, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) of Japan and RBC of Canada are also massive funders in this sector. Notably, JPMorgan Chase is by far the worst banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion — and therefore the world’s worst banker of climate change, providing $196 billion in finance for fossil fuels, 10% of all fossil fuel finance from the 33 major global banks.
With Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in 11th and 12th places respectively in the fossil fuel financing league table, all of the big six U.S. banking giants are in the top “dirty dozen” bankers of climate change. Together, U.S. banks account for 37% of all global fossil fuel financing. Collectively, the U.S. banks are the biggest source of funding for fossil fuel expansion since the Paris Agreement was adopted.
Barclays, the top European banker of fracking and coal, leads as the worst European bank, with $85 billion poured into fossil fuels and $24 billion into expansion. Japan’s worst fossil fuel bank, MUFG, funded $80 billion in fossil fuels overall and $25 billion in fossil fuel expansion. RBC, the world’s top banker of tar sands, leads in Canada, banking fossil fuels at $101 billion. The world’s top banker of coal power, Bank of China, qualifies as China’s worst banker of fossil fuels, with $17 billion funneled into expansion from 2016-2018.
Of the $1.9 trillion total, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively expanding fossil fuels. Alarmingly, these findings reveal that the business practices of the world’s major banks continue to be aligned with climate disaster and stand in sharp contrast to the recent IPCC special report on global warming. That report, Global Warming of 1.5 °C, clearly outlined the critical need for a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and estimates that the world’s clean energy investment needs are $2.4 trillion per year up to 2035.
“Alarming is an understatement. This report is a red alert. 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“ said Alison Kirsch, Climate and Energy Lead Researcher at Rainforest Action Network.
“Financial institutions are funding the destruction of our planet. Climate crisis is a reality that will be shared by every living being — we need change, we need it now. It is a question of our shared survival that banks must respond to. We cannot drink money.” said Tara Houska, Campaigns Director of Honor The Earth.
The report also analyzes the banks’ unacceptably poor performance on human rights, particularly Indigenous rights, as it relates to the impacts of specific fossil fuel projects, and climate change in general.