Top international banks “are placing their bets” on a future contrary to the Paris climate agreement by financing billions of dollars worth of fossil fuel projects, environmental groups said in a report yesterday.
Twenty-five major banks, such as Bank of America Corp., Barclays PLC, Citigroup Inc. and HSBC Holdings PLC, have invested $784 billion in coal mining, coal-fired electricity, so-called “extreme oil” operations and liquefied natural gas infrastructure between 2013-15, according to the study.
That financial exposure is “deeply at odds” with the Paris Agreement that almost 200 nations reached in December, the authors said, adding that the world’s top banks could lose massively if countries fulfill those promises.
“If governments follow through on the Paris agreement and limit carbon emissions, these investments could likely result in stranded assets and significant loses,” the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, the Sierra Club and Oil Change International, the report authors, said in a statement.
“In finance terms, ‘short-selling’ or ‘shorting’ is when an investor profits if a company or asset declines in value. It means betting on failure,” Jason Opeña Disterhoft, a campaigner at RAN, said in a statement. “Financing extreme fossil fuels amounts to shorting the climate.”
The seventh such report in as many years, the analysis shows banks have put far less money in coal mining and coal-based power than in oil and natural gas.
In the three-year period examined, the 25 North American and European banks have put $42 billion toward coal mining, $154 billion in coal power, $306 billion in “extreme” oil and $282 billion in LNG export projects. The authors categorized oil sands operations and Arctic and deepwater drilling as “extreme.”
Worldwide financing of coal mining and coal power projects, however, has slowed as banks have refused to lend to what they consider increasingly risky clients. Many financial institutions have updated their corporate policies with specific language on coal.
Citigroup said in October it would cut its loans to coal mining firms (ClimateWire, Oct. 6, 2015). Citigroup said that policy covers mountaintop removal mining, a process in which workers blow up soil and rocks to get to coal seams below.
Several other European and U.S. banks—Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Société Générale SA and others—have also slashed financing to coal miners since 2015.
And in March, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a new set of environmental and social policies, including a decision not to finance new coal mines.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500