Banks won’t stop funneling billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry

Bank financing for companies that are planning new coal, oil, and gas extraction increased 40% from 2018 to 2019, despite warnings that we need to stop burning these fuels.

[Source Image: Nerthuz/iStock]

new report from a group of environmental nonprofits details how 35 international banks have not only been sustaining but expanding the fossil fuel sector with investments that total more than $2.7 trillion over the four years since the Paris Climate Agreement. Bank financing for 100 companies that are aggressively planning new coal, oil, and gas extraction and infrastructure increased 40% from 2018 to 2019, per the report.

Though banks across the world are guilty of financial fossil fuels, “The U.S. banks are the worst of the worst,” says Lucie Pinson, executive director of Reclaim Finance, a France-based research and advocacy organization that pressures financial institutions to support climate initiatives and one of the groups that coauthored the report. JPMorgan Chase was the worst offender, having invested $269 billion in fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America together account for 30% of all fossil fuel financing from 35 global banks since 2015.

“It’s very clear that banks as a whole are all miserably failing when it comes to responding to the urgency of the climate crisis,” Pinson says. Even when these banks have policies that seem environmentally friendly—French bank BNP Paribas, for example, announced a policy in 2017 that it would no longer do business with companies who primarily produce and distribute oil and gas from shale or tar sands—it’s not enough to counter their overall monetary support of fossil fuels.

“This policy is on paper the best worldwide, and it’s actually led BNP to drastically reduce its financing to shale oil and gas sectors,” Pinson says of that 2017 decision. “However, what the report can show is that BNP increased by 72% its financing to the overall fossil fuel sector in 2019 compared to 2018.” Despite giving up those narrow parts of the fossil fuel world, BNP Paribas was still the biggest fossil fuel funder in Europe in 2019.

These banks have been “picking and choosing” which environmental steps to take, Pinson says, but “a lot of the policies that are being adopted right now are really pure green washing.” Efforts to reduce investments in specific sectors like coal are also baby steps, she adds, compared to what is needed to truly stem the tide of climate change.

For consumers who don’t want their money in banks that then funnel those funds into fossil fuels, she suggests turning to community and local banks and making sure your money is not going to support “disastrous activities.” If banks are not willing to align with the Paris Agreement, she adds, they need to be penalized. In the current economic crisis, where banks are now demanding regulators delay rules on climate change (and capital, and accounting, and more) because of the coronavirus pandemic—UK banks are specifically asking to delay climate change stress tests—Pinson says it’s even more important to focus on the overarching crisis of climate change, which is here to stay. SOURCE

“Stop the Money Pipeline”: 150 Arrested at Protests Exposing Wall Street’s Link to Climate Crisis

Nearly 150 people were arrested on Capitol Hill Friday in a climate protest led by Academy Award-winning actor and activist Jane Fonda.

Fonda has been leading weekly climate demonstrations in Washington, D.C., known as “Fire Drill Fridays,” since October. For her last and 14th protest, actors Martin Sheen and Joaquin Phoenix, indigenous anti-pipeline activist Tara Houska, journalist Naomi Klein and dozens more lined up to get arrested as they demanded a mass uprising and swift political action to thwart the climate crisis.

Fonda then marched with supporters down Pennsylvania Avenue to a Chase Bank branch where environmentalist Bill McKibben and dozens of others were occupying the space to draw attention to the bank’s ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Ten, including McKibben, were arrested. The day of action was the launch of “Stop the Money Pipeline,” a campaign to halt the flow of cash from banks, investment firms and insurance companies to the fossil fuel industry.

“Let us remember that we are not the criminals,” Naomi Klein told a crowd of protesters. “The criminals are the people who are letting this world burn for money.”

….The day of action was the launch of the “Stop the Money Pipeline” campaign to halt the flow of cash from banks, investment firms and insurance companies to the fossil fuel industry. The day of protests began with Jane Fonda outside the Capitol.

TRANSCRIPT

Climate Movement Takes Aim at Wall Street, Because ‘Money Is Only Language Fossil Fuel Industry Speaks

“Stop the Money Pipeline” campaign demands that banks, insurers, and asset managers cut ties with planet-destroying companies.

STMP image

Stop the Money Pipeline, a new campaign from climate activists, aims to convince Wall Street to stop financing the fossil fuel industry. (Image: Stop the Money Pipeline)

Climate activists on Thursday announced a new campaign that aims to send a message to Wall Street: “Stop financing fossil fuels and deforestation and start respecting human rights and Indigenous sovereignty.”

“Money is the only language that the fossil fuel industry speaks.” —Ka Hswa Wa, EarthRights International

Organized by a coalition of climate, youth, and Indigenous groups, Stop the Money Pipeline will officially launch Friday at the final event in a weekly civil disobedience series that actor and activist Jane Fonda kicked off in October called Fire Drill Fridays.

Several vocal climate campaigners plan to join Fonda at the Friday launch, including celebrities Martin Sheen and Joaquin Phoenix, Indigenous leaders Tara Houska and Eriel Deranger, Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard, and authors and activists Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben.

— Fire Drill Fridays (@FireDrillFriday)

Join the #FireDrillFriday 🔥 teach-in on Thursday with @Janefonda, @greenpeaceusa‘s @AnnieMLeonard, @350‘s @billmckibben, & @Indigenous_ca‘s @erieltd.

This will be the last teach-in before Jane returns to LA.

Tune in at 7pm ET: https://t.co/qX7b5UYr1x

Art by Sarah Epperson pic.twitter.com/wqPYR1rLT3

Artwork for Fire Drill Friday's Thursday teach-in hosted by Jane Fonda

January 8, 2020

Like previous weeks, before the Friday rally and protest there will be a Thursday night livestreamed teach-in, which will feature Deranger, Leonard, and McKibben.

McKibben co-founded the global environmental advocacy group 350.org, which announced Stop the Money Pipeline in a joint statement from organizers Thursday.

“A chorus of high profile voices—including scientists, the United Nations, European central banks, and the IMF—have all sounded the alarm about the role of the finance industry in driving climate destruction, but so far their calls for action have fallen on deaf ears,” the statement said. “The Stop the Money Pipeline mobilization will bring together a number of existing campaigns targeting the worst offenders in each part of the financial sector.”

“We cannot solve the climate crisis until banks and insurance companies step up and stop financing environmental destruction.”
—Liz Butler, Friends of the Earth U.S.

Liz Butler, vice president of organizing and strategic alliances at Friends of the Earth U.S., explained that “climate chaos is already decimating the world, from worsening wildfires to widespread flooding and devastating droughts. Wall Street banks and insurance companies are fueling this crisis by pumping billions of dollars into fossil fuel projects that destroy local communities and our environment.”

“We cannot solve the climate crisis until banks and insurance companies step up and stop financing environmental destruction. They must slash their financing for fossil fuel projects and end the abuses of frontline communities worldwide,” Butler added.

Carroll Muffett, president at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), highlighted some conditions frontline communities currently face and the ongoing legal actions that aim to hold polluters financially liable for wrecking the planet.

“With Australia burning and Jakarta underwater, the science is clear that every new investment in fossil fuels is committing the world to climate chaos and human rights violations on a massive scale,” he said. “Fossil fuel producers are already being held accountable in courtrooms around the world. The financial sector should take note, take action or take cover.”

Other group involved in Stop the Money Pipeline include Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Sunrise Project, Future Coalition, Divest Ed, Divest-Invest, Native Movement, Giniw Collective, Transition U.S., Oil Change International, 350 Seattle, EarthRights International, Union of Concerned Scientists, Majority Action, The YEARS Project, and Amazon Watch.

While the campaign’s broad demand is that “banks, asset managers, and insurance companies stop funding, insuring, and investing in climate destruction,” the advocacy organizations have identified three primary and initial targets: JPMorgan Chase, BlackRock, and Liberty Mutual.

top targets

 

“As the world’s largest investor in fossil fuel companies, BlackRock is effectively financing disinformation campaigns that have delayed climate action for decades,” declared Kathy Mulvey, a campaign director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Investors need to expect more and tolerate less from fossil fuel companies—and tell them to swiftly get on board with climate action, or get out of the way.”

BlackRock announced Thursday that it is joining the Climate Action 100+ investor initiative. Members of the BlackRock’s Big Problem network responded by calling the move a “first step in the right direction” and urging the firm to “go beyond words and actually make meaningful changes to the way it wields its power.”

According to the tenth annual Fossil Fuel Finance Report Cardreleased in March 2019 by RAN and other groups, 33 global banks have collectively poured at least $1.9 trillion into the fossil fuel industry since world leaders adopted the Paris climate agreement in December 2015. The report card identified Chase as the bank that gave the most to coal, gas, and oil companies from 2016 to 2018.

“Our government won’t move on climate so we have to move our money. The fossil fuel industry can’t survive without its friends on Wall Street.”—Clara Vondrich, Divest-Invest

“Banks around the globe are betting against our future with every dollar they invest in fossil fuels,” Greenpeace USA climate campaign director Janet Redman said Thursday. “Money is the oxygen on which the climate crisis burns—and we need everyone to care where their money is being spent.”

As EarthRights International executive director Ka Hswa Wa put it: “Money is the only language that the fossil fuel industry speaks. For decades, the industry’s game has been to pursue profit recklessly while shifting the costs onto local communities. Today, we have come together to announce that the rules of the game have changed and fossil fuel companies will be held accountable.”

Organizers see Stop the Money Pipeline as the next phase of the global movement fighting for divestment from fossil fuels and investment in renewable energy, which has secured commitments from over 1,150 institutions with more than $12 trillion in total assets, according to a real-time tracker from 350.org’s Fossil Free project.

“The international movement calling for divestment from dirty fossil fuels is only growing louder and stronger, and major financial institutions should take note,” said Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “It’s time for them to stop pouring money into the projects that are driving the climate crisis and commit to investing in a future that benefits our communities, our economies, our health, and our planet.”

Divest-Invest director Clara Vondrich emphasized the added importance of pressuring major financial players to take action to address the climate emergency given that global governments continue to drag their feet.

“Our government won’t move on climate so we have to move our money. The fossil fuel industry can’t survive without its friends on Wall Street,” Vondrich said. “Without loans, insurance and investment, Big Oil dries up. Money talks, and we can walk. Wall Street caused the financial crash. We won’t let it cause the climate crash.” SOURCE

Bankrupt energy companies await key Supreme Court ruling on old oil wells

The decision could have implications for banks, apart from junior and intermediate oil producers’ access to capital

Image result for abandoned oil wells alberta
Pumpjacks, like this one near Calgary, are used to pump crude oil out of the ground after a well has been drilled. Thousands of oil wells have been abandoned across Alberta without proper remediation. (Todd Korol/Reuters)

Trustees for bankrupt energy companies will learn Thursday whether they can refuse to pay clean up costs for old and inactive oil and gas wells in Alberta.

The Supreme Court of Canada is set to rule on whether the trustee for bankrupt Redwater Energy Corp. can hand over the remediation responsibilities for old and inactive oil and gas wells to Alberta’s Orphan Well Association — while still keeping its more valuable wells and facilities, which can be sold to repay the company’s debt.

The case has been closely watched in the Calgary oilpatch and will have major implications across the country’s resource sectors as the Supreme Court will determine whether debt holders have a higher priority over environmental clean-up responsibilities in bankruptcy cases. MORE

RELATED:

Albertans may face $8B bill for orphan wells unless rules change, lawyer says

 

Who owns Canada’s fossil-fuel sector?

Mapping the network of ownership and control

This study shows that substantial ownership and strategic control over Canada’s fossil-fuel sector are in the hands of a few major players, including all the Canadian big banks and several US investment funds, governments and some wealthy families—many of which are located outside Canada.

And, these investors have high stakes in maintaining business as usual rather than addressing the industry’s serious climate issues. They have both an interest in the continued growth of the sector and the economic power to shape its future.

The study highlights the important role of banks and institutional investors despite the relatively small ownership stakes any given investor tends to hold in a single fossil fuel company. Each institutional investor may own less than 10 per cent of any single company, but as a group they own far more, placing them in a position to exert control as a “constellation of interests”.

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