RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina, denouncing the banks responsible for its financing. Photo: Rainforest Action Network via Flickr (CC BY-NC).
Top banks put nine times more money into fossil fuels than renewables
3rd November 2015
Since the last big climate conference in 2009 the world's biggest private sector banks have provided more than nine more money to fossil fuels than to renewable energy - showing up their oft-repeated 'green finance' promises as little more than PR puff.
This analysis, the first to compare private sector bank financing of fossil fuels and renewable energy, identifies the alarming priority that banks have been giving to dirty energy over clean energy since 2009, the year of the Copenhagen climate summit.
The world's 25 largest private sector banks channelled at least $931 billion into fossil fuel companies in the period 2009-2014.
That's almost ten times more than they invested in renewable energy. Over the same period they provided just $98 billion in finance to the renewables sector.
The news comes in a report published today by Fair Finance Guide and BankTrack, 'Undermining our Future'.
The time period was chosen to follow the 2009 COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen, to see how well banks had faced up to the challenge posed to them at COP15 of supporting the green energy revolution.
And by any standards, the big banks scored a big climate fail, says Alexandre Naulot, spokesperson at Fair Finance Guide International:
"This analysis, the first international study to compare private sector bank financing of fossil fuels and renewable energy, identifies the alarming priority that banks have been giving to dirty energy over clean energy since 2009, the year of the Copenhagen climate summit.
"Up to the end of 2014, for every dollar the banks have channelled into renewable energy, they've provided more than 9 dollars for fossil fuels. Now, more than ever, we need to start seeing some firm commitments from the banks to quickly stop this business as usual."
The US's 'big bad three' - Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America
Also revealed by the report, three US banks Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America were the largest fossil banks over the 2009 - 2014 period:
- Citi provided over $76 billion to fossil fuel companies and only $6.5 billion to renewable energy;
- JPMorgan Chase also provided over $76 billion to fossil fuel companies, and just $6.5 billion to renewables;
- Bank of America provided $62.7 billion to fossil fuel companies, and only $5.4 billion to renewable energy.
Of the broader 'top ten' financial institutions, including well-known French, German, UK and Japanese banks, individual renewable energy investment totals nowhere exceeded $7.5 billion for the period. "These figures, dwarfed by the corresponding fossil fuel financing totals, contrast with these banks' regular statements on their desire to play a role in combating climate change", said Naulot.
Video: Banks, do the Paris Pledge!
"Banks play a pivotal role in the economy and have a responsibility to promote a less carbon intensive world. We certainly hear enough from them about their green finance aspirations, but they lack clear commitments. Clear and ambitious climate commitments from the banks and governments will be crucial at the Paris summit.
"Governments also need to act. We need them to adopt strong legislations that will mobilise the financial sector towards a low carbon economy and that will encourage the banks and financial institutions to phase out of fossil fuel, starting with coal."
Banks must move against fossil fuels, for renewables!
"We need ambitious action from the banks now", said Yann Louvel, climate and energy coordinator for BankTrack, urging the banks to demonstrate their commitment to hugely increased green energy financing - and an end to support for fossil fuels - at or before the COP21 climate conference which begins later this month.
"The likes of Crédit Agricole and Natixis in France and Bank of America and Citi have made positive moves in recent months to restrict their support to the coal industry", Louvel acknowledged.
"Yet no major international bank has so far done the Paris Pledge, and committed before COP21 in Paris to a full phase out of coal financing. This is the kind of practical commitment we need to see happening, to bring an end to the fossil fuel favouritism and the strangulation of the banks' financing in renewable energy."
'Undermining our Future', analysed a total of 75 financial institutions, including the world's 25 largest private sector banks, linking them to 178 companies and 540 renewable energy projects. This selection represents 65% of total emissions of greenhouse gas in the energy sector and more than 53% of total emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy sector investment figures detailed in the report are based on publicly available information, though due to a lack of full transparency across the institutions the figures should be taken as minimum amounts. Many of the researched financial institutions have no climate change mitigation policies or commitments in place.
The report: 'Undermining our Future' is published today by Fair Finance Guide International and BankTrack.
More information: The Paris Pledge campaign is aimed at ending the multi-billion dollar coal financing of the world's private banks, and is currently backed by 12 ethical banks, leaders of the fossil fuel divestment movement including 350.org and its founder Bill McKibben, as well over 150 other global groups and more than 10,000 individuals.
Also on The Ecologist: 'RBS, Barclays, HSBC ... it's time to get out of coal!'
Twitter: #QuitCoal #ParisPledge
- Top banks put 9x more money into #fossilfuels than renewables. #QuitCoal The Ecologist http://bit.ly/1LRwHHA
- Banks must pledge to #QuitCoal before #COP21 in Paris. Join in dotheparispledge.org via @banktrack #ParisPledge pic.twitter.com/VP79vJjHSv
- @BNPParibas, @DeutscheBank, @MorganStanley - Do the #ParisPledge and #quitcoal! https://lc.cx/Zt9V pic.twitter.com/VP79vJjHSv
- Over 150 NGOs call on big banks to do the #ParisPledge and #QuitCoal now. http://bit.ly/1LLVehb #COP21 youtu.be/CHv1LBcZsGk (https://t.co/fISyn898WL)
- .@BNPParibas, no time to play anymore. Be a true climate sponsor #endcoal now & do the #ParisPledge! #BNPPM pic.twitter.com/I03iSvHUuu
- Around the world we tell banks: #coal hurts. Do the #ParisPledge (Do%2520%2520heParisPledge) & drop it @MorganStanley http://bit.ly/1RwuZx0 pic.twitter.com/wRhAEc3OEG
- Out with coal billions @DeutscheBank : http://bit.ly/1OOl5qV Here is why: https://youtu.be/vrr4jU-tg8M #ParisPledge pic.twitter.com/JL8LCn6FIZ
- #PinocchioAwards. vote for @BNPParibas, sponsor of the COP21 but 1st French coal bank http://bit.ly/1nTbBQv
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