World's Banks Driving Climate Chaos With Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing
Wall Street continues to back the most polluting fossil fuel industries "at the expense of some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet," states new report
World's Banks Driving Climate Chaos With Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing
A coal-fired power plant in Germany. (Photo: Guy Gorek/cc/flickr)
By Lauren McCauley / commondreams.org

Turning their backs on climate science and the consensus of governments and civil society across the globe, the world's biggest banks are dangerously advancing the climate crisis by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the world's most polluting fossil fuel industries, according to a new report published Tuesday.

The report, $horting the Climate: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2016 (pdf), put forth by Rainforest Action Network (RAN), BankTrack, Sierra Club, and Oil Change International, evaluates the private global banking industry based on its financing for fossil fuels. For the first time, the seventh annual installment of the report breaks that funding down by the most high-risk subsectors of that industry, including coal power, extreme oil (tar sands andArctic and ultra-deep offshore drilling), and Liquified National Gas (LNG) export.

According to the report's analysis of the last three years, Citigroup, topping the list with $24.06 billion of coal power plant funding, and Bank of America "are the Western world’s coal banks." At the same time, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, and Bank of America—with a respective $37.7 billion, $26.49 billion and $24.85 billion in high-risk financing—"are the bankers of extreme oil and gas."

These loans, the groups point out, fly in the face of the Paris Climate Agreement, under which governments pledged reduce emissions in an effort to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change.

"If governments follow through on the Paris climate agreement... investments in coal infrastructure, LNG export terminals, and extreme oil projects will be largely unprofitable,"explains Jason Opeña Disterhoft, senior campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. "These investments would only pay off if the international community fails to rein in global warming. So big extreme fossil fuel investments are massive bets that governments won’t stop climate change." 

"In financial terms," Opeña Disterhoft continues, "'shorting' is doing a deal in which an investor profits if a company or asset declines in value. In other words, it means betting on failure. After the Paris climate agreement, funding extreme fossil fuels amounts to shorting the climate."

The report continues:

The global banking sector is no stranger to breathtakingly cynical and short-sighted financing practices, having precipitated a global credit crisis in 2008 that brought the global economy to its knees before governments and central banks stepped in with a bailout.

But if banks continue to bet that the fossil fuel industry wins and the climate loses, no bailout will be able to undo their recklessness this time. And while banks and investors may be able to wring fees and profits from fossil fuel companies over the short term, they will do so at the expense of some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet who live in or near fossil fuel “sacrifice zones” around the world.

These communities include "towns near blasted-off Appalachian mountaintops, coastal regions off the Gulf exploited for export terminals and offshore drilling, First Nations whose lands and waters are contaminated by tar sands mines in Canada, and communities from Poland to Indonesia to Bangladesh who breathe contaminated air and drink contaminated water from smokestacks, oil spills, and other routine disasters caused by fossil fuel infrastructure."

The report issued letter grades to banks based on their policies and performance with respect to financing for coal mining, coal power, extreme oil, and LNG export, in addition to a grade on their overall human rights policies and practices. Overall performance was poor, with an average grade "D."

Armed with this information, the groups are demanding "a fundamental realignment of bank energy financing to end support for fossil fuel projects and companies that are incompatible with climate stabilization."

In its call-to-action, RAN laments: "We hope, for everyone’s sake, that it will not take water seeping into the lobbies of Wall Street office towers at mid-century for executives at banks and other financial institutions to understand that when it comes to climate change, their fates are bound up with everyone else's."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 15,525 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
The Little Engine That Couldn't: How We're Preparing Ourselves and Our Children for Extinction
Daniel Quinn · 9,886 views today · In a recent semi-documentary film called Garbage, a toxic waste disposal engineer was asked how we can stop engulfing the world in our poisons. His answer was, "We'd have to...
18 Empowering Illustrations to Remind Everyone Who's Really in Charge of Women's Bodies
Julianne Ross · 2,839 views today · When Brazilian graphic designer Carol Rossetti began posting colorful illustrations of women and their stories to Facebook, she had no idea how popular they would...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 1,429 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
Gabor Maté: Why Our Culture Makes So Many Of Us Unhappy
3 min · 1,023 views today · Dr. Gabor Maté explains why it is that our culture makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to one another, miserable, alienated from ourselves, etc. Watch the full interview in Part 2.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 967 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 902 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 902 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Bitter Lake (2015)
136 min · 761 views today · Adam Curtis: Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events. But now there are no big stories and politicians react...
Beyond Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure
Daniel Quinn · 680 views today · PART ONE A fable to start with Once upon a time life evolved on a certain planet, bringing forth many different social organizations—packs, pods, flocks, troops, herds, and...
It Didn't Start With You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
Mark Wolynn · 613 views today · The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · 613 views today · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th...
You Should Get Naked More Often. It's Good for You.
Joni Sweet · 513 views today · When Nelly encouraged overheated people worldwide to get naked in 2002, he was unknowingly advocating much more than just a sexy, sweaty dance party. Sunbathing, sleeping...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 456 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 442 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
A New Story for Humanity (2016)
102 min · 382 views today · Inspired by the New Story Summit at the Findhorn Foundation: a sold-out multicultural, multigenerational inquiry into a new story for humanity, attended by change makers and...
Lawns Are for Suckers. Plant a Garden - for the Climate!
Nathanael Johnson · 381 views today · Ripping out your lawn and planting kale and peppers won’t just lead to great stir-fry — a new study finds it could make major contributions to fighting climate change...
Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma
Kali Holloway · 359 views today · We begin the damaging process of turning boys into men long before boyhood ends.
Why You Should Take Your Kids Out of School
Ben Hewitt · 333 views today · We don't need no education. At least not of the traditional, compulsory, watch-the-clock-until-the-bell-rings kind. As a growing movement of unschoolers believe, a steady diet...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 297 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
World's Banks Driving Climate Chaos With Hundreds of Billions in Extreme Energy Financing