The financing spigot has provided way over half a trillion dollars during the last three years to America’s fossil fuel producers. That’s from just four Wall Street banks—JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. This money invariably goes for the worst kinds of anti-climate projects, like oil pipelines.
Only a very few of the largest companies, like Exxon Mobil, can self-finance their projects. The others are wired to the biggest banks and investment firms, and the climate movement is beginning to take note of the problem.
Though many banking institutions have branded themselves as green, the world’s top 33 largest banks collectively provided $1.9 trillion in financing for coal, oil, and gas companies since countries put forth the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
Bill McKibben has organized StopTheMoneyPipeline.Com to “demand that banks, asset managers and insurance companies stop funding, insuring and investing in climate destruction.” Just getting started, the group has targeted Chase, BlackRock Asset Managers (with its nearly $7 trillion in investments) and Liberty Mutual Insurance—all of whom could stop fossil financing tomorrow without any real damage to their business.
McKibben writes that “These titans may be too big to pressure. Yet if we could get just one offending bank to move toward divesting from fossil fuels, the ripple effects would be both swift and global.” And even now, BlackRock’s website leads off with the statement that “Sustainability, and climate change in particular, are transforming investments.” They post a letter from CEO Larry Fink about “how climate risk is an investment risk” and how sustainable strategies are the future. Maybe Fink and McKibben can now have lunch.
Several writers predict a sort of domino effect if even one of these “banks” (what an outmoded term for these guys!) gets serious about this kind of funding strategy. Fink wrote that he believes “we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” He would “introduce new funds that shun fossil fuel-oriented stocks, move more aggressively to vote against management teams that are not making progress on sustainability.”
We would note that sustainability is always a tricky and ambiguous word, but let’s give Larry credit for evidently trying finally to monitor the fossil funding spigot. According to one of Bloomberg’s opinion writers, his letter marks the end of the road for coal.