Some of the largest investment banks in the world have been accused of failing to respond to the climate crisis as new figures show that they have invested over £2.2tn into fossil fuels since the Paris agreement.
Despite their own economists warning that climate change is a threat to the survival of humanity, US bank JPMorgan Chase has been involved in over £220bn worth of funding for the extraction of coal, oil and gas. This makes it the largest financier of fossil fuels since the Paris agreement was made four years ago.
According to analysis carried out by a coalition of environmental groups and clean energy campaigners led by Rainforest Action Network, last year saw an increase of 40% in the financing of companies that are most heavily involved in the extraction of fossil fuels.
The analysis was published on Wednesday as part of the Banking on Climate Change 2020 report, and used financial data from Bloomberg and other sources to analyse services from 2016 to 2019. This included equity issuances, debt underwriting services, and loans.
Researcher at Rainforest Action Network, Alison Kirsch said: “The data reveal that global banks are not only ramping up financing of fossil fuels overall, but are also increasing funding for the companies most responsible for fossil fuel expansion”.
In Europe, Barclays has been the leading financier of fossil fuels for the last four years. The bank was the biggest financier of Arctic gas and oil, despite coming under increasing pressure from its own investors for its stance on the environment.
Speaking on the continued investment into fossil fuels by these major banks, Kirsch said: “This makes it crystal clear that banks are failing miserably when it comes to responding to the urgency of the climate crisis. As the toll of death and destruction from unprecedented floods, droughts, fires and storms grows, it is unconscionable and outrageous for banks to be approving new loans and raising capital for the companies that are pushing hardest to increase carbon emissions”.
A spokesperson for Barclays said: “We are working hard to help tackle climate change including facilitating £34.8bn of social and environmental financing last year. We continue to engage with ShareAction and other stakeholders on how we can make further progress”.
JPMorgan Chase told The Guardian that it believed that the commitments they announced earlier this year “reflect our ongoing efforts to help address climate change and promote more sustainable development”.
Adding: “This includes financing to support climate action and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, backing market-based policy solutions to reduce carbon emissions, expanding restrictions on financing for coal mining and coal-fired power, and prohibiting project financing for new oil and gas development in the Arctic”.
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