Banks spend $2.7trn on fossil fuels in four years

3rd April 2020

Web p6 airpollution gettyimages 163395478

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Investment


Noel Mbabazi

The world's 35 largest private banks spent more than $2.7trn financing the fossil fuel sector in the four years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, the most comprehensive study of its kind has found.

The analysis also shows that support for the fossil fuel sector has grown every year since 2015, despite scientists warning that emissions must fall rapidly to avoid the worst of the climate crisis.

Four US banks are particularly culpable, with JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America accounting for 30% of all financing uncovered. JPMorgan Chase has provided $269bn in fossil financing since the Paris Agreement, making it the number one fossil fuel bank – exceeding the spending of second-placed Wells Fargo by a 36% margin.

Alison Kirsch, climate and energy leader researcher at Rainforest Action Network, which published the study, said the findings show “a disturbing picture“. “This makes it crystal clear that banks are failing miserably when it comes to responding to the urgency of the climate crisis,“ she added.

The study also highlights banks' poor performance on human rights via their financing of particular case study projects – from the Line 3 pipeline in North America, which is opposed by indigenous-led protests, to fracking in Argentina's Vaca Muerta basin. These examples highlight the lack of effective human rights policies to prevent institutions from financing highly environmentally damaging projects and the companies behind them.

“As the toll of death and destruction from floods, droughts, fires and storms grows, it is unconscionable and outrageous for banks to be approving new loans and raising capital for the companies that are pushing hardest to increase carbon emissions,“ Kirsch said.

Picture credit: Getty Images


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Scotland to scrap its 2030 climate target

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

It’s well recognised that the public sector has the opportunity to work towards a national net-zero landscape that goes well beyond improving on its own performance; it can also influence through procurement and can direct through policy.

19th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close