Report alleges major banks contribute to climate change through increased funding of fossil fuels

In May 2019, a group of NGOs led by Rainforest Action Network published research findings that suggest some of the biggest banks around the world are financing fossil fuels more than ever before. Since the Paris Agreement took effect in 2016, 33 of the top banks have contributed $1.911 trillion in fossil fuel financing. 

Full report | Executive summary

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to the top banks named in the report for a public response:

  1. Bank of America has not yet responded
  2. Bank of China has not yet responded
  3. Bank of Montreal response
  4. Barclays response
  5. Citi response
  6. Deutsche Bank response
  7. Goldman Sachs did not respond
  8. HSBC response
  9. JPMorgan Chase response
  10. Mizuho response
  11. Morgan Stanley response
  12. MUFG has not yet responded
  13. RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) response
  14. Scotiabank response
  15. SMBC Group did not respond
  16. TD Bank response
  17. Wells Fargo response
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Article
12 June 2019

300 organizations call on JPMorgan Chase to stop financing expansion of fossil fuel

Author: Rainforest Action Network & other NGOs

JPMorgan Chase is the world’s leading banker of climate change, by a huge margin. The undersigned 300 organizations, representing over thirty million supporters from around the world, call on your bank to stop financing expansion of fossil fuels, and commit to phasing out funding of fossil fuels in time to limit climate change to 1.5°C...JPMorgan Chase must do its part to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement, which calls for finance to be “consistent with a pathway toward low greenhouse gas emissions.” We call on your bank to align with this call and to announce that: » JPMorgan Chase will immediately stop financing expansion of fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. » JPMorgan Chase commits to phase out fossil fuel finance on a timeline compatible with limiting climate change to 1.5°C. » JPMorgan Chase will immediately stop financing projects and companies that fail to respect human and Indigenous rights, including Indigenous peoples’ rights to their water and lands, and the right to free, prior and informed consent.

Download the full document here

Report
12 June 2019

Executive summary: Banking on Climate Change

Author: Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Sierra Club, Oil Change Intl., Indigenous Environmental Network, Honor the Earth

For the first time, this report adds up lending and underwriting from 33 global banks to the fossil fuel industry as a whole. The findings are stark: these Canadian, Chinese, European, Japanese, and U.S. banks have financed fossil fuels with $1.9 trillion since the Paris Agreement was adopted (2016–2018), with financing on the rise each year. This report finds that fossil fuel financing is dominated by the big U.S. banks, with JPMorgan Chase as the world’s top funder of fossil fuels by a wide margin. In other regions, the top bankers of fossil fuels are Royal Bank of Canada in Canada, Barclays in Europe, MUFG in Japan, and Bank of China in China. This report also puts increased scrutiny on the banks’ support for 100 top companies that are expanding fossil fuels, given that there is no room for new fossil fuels in the world’s carbon budget. And yet banks supported these companies with $600 billion in the last three years. JPMorgan Chase is again on top, by an even wider margin, and North American banks emerge as the biggest bankers of expansion as well.

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Article
11 June 2019

Rainforest Action Network rejoinder to JPMorgan Chase re financing fossil fuel sector

While we appreciate JPMorgan Chase’s engagement on this issue, we find this response inadequately addresses the matters at hand...In JPMorgan Chase’s recently released climate risk report the bank finally admits the severity of the climate crisis, yet the response outlined in the report is inadequate to address it — especially given JPMorgan Chase’s outsize role in fueling it as the world’s biggest banker of fossil fuels...JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to facilitate $200 billion in clean financing over eight years...pales in comparison to JPMorgan Chase’s $195.66 billion in financing for fossil fuels in the last three years alone...Lastly, JPMorgan Chase’s support for “fundamental principles of human rights” falls short in implementation, in particular with regards to Indigenous rights...Unfortunately, this reply from JPMorgan Chase is nonresponsive to the original communication, as it avoids discussion of the prescient matter at hand: JPMorgan Chase’s support for companies violating Indigenous rights, and its astronomical volumes of fossil fuel financing, which need to be phased out in the name of climate stability. [Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited JPMorgan Chase to respond to this rejoinder; the bank indicated it will be engaging with the authors directly]

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Company response
10 June 2019

Response by Mizuho

Author: Mizuho

Mizuho has already been focusing on responsible investing and financing. Mizuho Bank, Ltd. adopted the Equator Principles as the first Asian bank in 2003, and Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. established the Policies on Specific Industrial Sectors in 2018, which affirmed commitment to considering risks such as environmental and social risks. For more information on our commitment and initiatives regarding environmental and social risk management, please refer to the Mizuho Financial Group website: https://www.mizuho-fg.com/release/20190522release_eng.html

Company response
9 June 2019

Response by JPMorgan Chase

Author: JPMorgan Chase

The issues surrounding climate change and the environment are complex, and we have sought to actively engage with a diverse set of stakeholders to understand their views. We firmly believe that balancing environmental and social issues with financial considerations is fundamental to sound risk management... On May 24th, JPMorgan Chase released our inaugural report on climate-related risks and opportunities... Looking forward, we will build off of our current commitments, including our target to facilitate $200 billion in clean financing by 2025 – which we are already half way toward meeting... we are tapping into the expertise of our business lines and many different groups... to help us better understand and manage climate risks, raise more capital for our clients who are developing low-carbon solutions, and disclose progress on our actions. The report covers many of the issues raised in the letter... On human rights, JPMorgan Chase supports fundamental principles of human rights across all our lines of business and in each region of the world in which we operate. JPMorgan Chase's respect for the protection and preservation of human rights is guided by the principles set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can find our full statement on human rights here.

Download the full document here

Company non-response
7 June 2019

Goldman Sachs did not respond

Company response
6 June 2019

Response by Citi

Author: Citi

We annually provide detailed feedback to the Report Card’s authors on its methodology and findings, and we would like to supplement what is covered in the Report Card with additional information on our extensive efforts to address climate change... We have had a public commitment to respect human rights since 2007, when Citi... issue[d] a Statement on Human Rights... In our 2018 update, we noted that...climate change presented a “systemic risk” to human rights and that addressing that risk is at the forefront of our broader sustainability efforts to mitigate the impacts of our clients’ activities while increasing our involvement in environmental and sustainable finance... our Climate Position Statement published in 2007... was followed in 2015 by a statement we coauthored with five other banks to express support for the development of the Paris Agreement.... As noted in our Environmental and Social Policy Framework, Citi also evaluates climate-related risks of financed projects under our Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM) Policy... We have also enhanced our efforts to better understand the impact on Citi’s lending portfolios from transition and physical risks related to climate change.

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Company response
5 June 2019

Response by ScotiaBank

Author: ScotiaBank

Through our Sustainable Business strategy, we are working hard to address the environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics that matter most to our business and to our stakeholders. Climate Change is one of our four strategic pillars. We set greenhouse gas reduction targets to address our own footprint, have an internal price on carbon to support more energy efficiency in our operations and financed $8.5 billion in the renewable energy sector in 2018. At Scotiabank, respect for human rights is fundamental to the way we do business, and is part of our core values across all of our business activities and operations. Consistent with that commitment, we published our Human Rights Statement, signed by our President and CEO, in 2016. The Statement is consistent with the framework established by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This Statement was further updated in February 2019 to reflect our commitment to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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Company response
4 June 2019

Response by HSBC

Author: HSBC

We are intent on playing our part in the transition to a low carbon economy – which is why we committed in 2017 to provide US$100 billion in finance to develop clean energy and lower-carbon technologies by 2025...Our 2016 Mining and Metals policy prohibits involvement in new thermal coal mines or new customers dependent on thermal coal mining; the Energy Policy further limits our involvement in coal-fired power plants (‘CFPPs’)...Prohibition of the ‘bad’ is only one side of the climate change equation. It is also important that the financial sector contributes positively to the transition by helping capital flows go to, for example, the renewables sector...HSBC’s Climate Change Centre of Excellence has long been the top-rated research provider on climate change issues, including highlighting the risk presented by stranded fossil fuel assets to both the asset owners and the finance behind them. Our newly established Centre for Sustainable Finance will augment this with forward-looking, debate-shaping contributions on, for example, unlocking capital, the low-carbon transition, and climate risk and disclosure.

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Company response
3 June 2019

Response by Bank of Montreal

Author: Bank of Montreal

...BMO’s activities are guided by our strategic priorities and sustainability principles of social change, financial resilience, community-building and environmental responsibility.  This includes reducing our environmental footprint while considering the impacts of our business activities as we work with stakeholders who share our commitment to sustainability... Our approach to responsible lending is set out in our Environmental, Social and Governance Report (ESG Report)... This is an important issue for BMO, especially as we consider how we can best support the transition to a lower-carbon economy in partnership with our clients... This sustainable finance activity is an important way that BMO positively contributes to the global transition to a lower carbon economy. We are also signatories to the Equator Principles agreement, which is the world’s leading framework for environmental and social risk management for projects within its scope...BMO is committed to operating in a manner that balances our commitments to all stakeholders as we pursue our business strategy and strive to fulfill our broader social responsibilities. We take this commitment seriously and will continue to do so.

Download the full document here