Banks break pledges with fossil fuel billions: report

Big banks continue to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into fossil fuel extraction, contradicting their pledges to cut the carbon emissions driving deadly climate change, a report said Friday.

The analysis by London-based think tank InfluenceMap found the world’s 30 biggest listed finance groups provided $740 billion to fossil fuel producers in 2020 and 2021, and held billions more in investments.

It said the biggest providers of fossil fuel financing were JP Morgan with $81 billion, Citigroup with $69 billion, and Bank of America with $55 billion.

“There is a stark disconnect between what they say about climate change and what they’re actually doing,” said the report’s author Eden Coates.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says global carbon dioxide emissions must reach net zero by 2050 if global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius to curb disastrous impacts.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) in 2021 published a roadmap showing that to make the energy switch to meet this target, there must be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects.

All but one of the 30 banks surveyed have committed to reaching net-zero by 2050.

The report found that the companies were also members of groups that lobby to weaken green finance policies.

Campaigners see such findings are evidence of “greenwashing” — companies trumpeting climate pledges while taking action that undermines those goals.

They say shareholders must press companies to reduce the damage from climate change.

“Any bank making a Net Zero promise whilst actively lobbying against necessary climate regulation -– such as mandatory disclosure of borrowers’ emissions and climate action plans — is greenwashing,” Christopher Hohn, a billionaire fund manager known as an “activist investor”, said in a statement responding to the report.

“Shareholders should vote against the directors of banks who are hiding their exposure to climate risk.”

InfluenceMap assessed climate policies and activities in the banks’ corporate statements and used data and science-based benchmarks to measure their implementation.

It said the companies were given the chance to review and respond to the analysis.