How To Achieve Divestment From Fossil Fuel Banks
Big banks are the lifeline of the fossil fuel industry. Its estimated that since the Paris Agreement went into force in 2016, banks across the planet have loaned $1.6 trillion to companies developing oil, gas, and coal projects. Thats an insane amount of money being invested into an industry thats leading to our demise. Whats even more disappointing is the fact that the top 4 banks with the most fossil fuel investments are all American, which include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citibank Inc. As more people become aware of these activities, a movement to divest money from these banks has gained traction. Aspiration has been leading this change since 2013, and we have no plans to stop. Our neobank believes that divesting from fossil fuels is the best way to curb the expansion of fossil fuels, and reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Weve put together a guide on how to divest your money if your environmental values no longer align with the interests of your bank.
Switch Energy Provider And Fund Renewables Not Fossil Fuels
Would you like the money you pay each month for your energy bill to help fund new renewables in the UK rather than burning fossil fuels? Luckily it’s easy to switch.
Here is a website for comparing and switching energy supplier focused on green energy companies: theswitch
and here you can find a full list of UK energy suppliers ranked according to their commitment to green energy which includes 18 companies who supply 100% green energy: electricityinfo
Will Anything Change As A Result Of Cop26 In Glasgow
The COP26 climate conference in November 2021 saw lots of headline-grabbing announcements on deforestation, including the Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land Use, which pledged to halt and reverse forestation by 2030. However, this risks being more of the same weak voluntary commitments that have failed to deliver results, following in the footsteps of the similar 2014 New York Declaration of Forests.
The forest commitments at COP26 were also accompanied by almost £14 billion in public and private funding and a welcome promise of increased support for Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
These communities are the guardians of more than one third of the worlds forests and 80% of all terrestrial biodiversity, yet they currently receive less than 1% of global climate finance.
Unfortunately, the funds announced at COP26 are dwarfed by the huge amounts of money which flow from the financial sector to companies linked to deforestation and related abuses.
A new report from Global Witness reveal how financiers public pledges are consistently and repeatedly contradicted by their actual financing decisions as they continue to profit from deforestation and associated abuses, highlighting their hypocrisy and greenwashing.
The recent investigation also found that banks and asset managers based in the EU, UK, US and China have made deals worth $157 billion with firms accused of destroying tropical forest in Brazil, South East Asia and Africa since the Paris Climate Agreement.
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Why Banks Are Refusing To Fund Fossil Fuels
With global trends experiencing a paradigm shift and transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, there is also greater accountability to be given to those engaging directly or indirectly in fossil fuel activities and business. The focus is now on financial institutions, indirectly contributing to environmental degradation and climate change by funding, financing, or loaning companies with stakes in fossil fuel development. This is in part due to the Paris Climate Agreement, signed at COP 21 in Paris, on 12 December 2015, by strengthening the call to the financial community, especially Development Finance Institutions , regarding their contributions to climate action. The Agreement provides for strong expectations regarding financing for climate action, and in turn, the financial sector, with one of its core objectives being to make finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development .
Fossil Fuels Where Does Your Bank Stand
We’ve created the table below to help you find out which banks do and dont have a record of funding fossil fuels. Use it to compare the fossil fuel investment positions of over 115 banks, credit unions and building societies.
Each institution is sorted into categories clearly defining those that fund fossil fuels and those with no recent record of funding the industry. Importantly, you can take action and contact every single bank, credit union and building society listed.
To find out more about how this bank comparison table and our research was compiled read this background. Our how to switch banks page also provides handy step-by-step materials to help you switch banks.
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Campaign For Divestment By Pensions And Other Fund
Done all that? Great. Unfortunately, if you have a pension, that is probably still invested in fossil fuels. Achieving divestment there is a more complex process, but one worth campaigning for – this article in the Guardian is a good place to get you started.
And if you want to go further, find local campaigns at gofossilfree.org
What People Are Reading
Last point on sustainable investments is that it’s easy to make bold-sounding promises to invest more in the sector of the economy that is booming. Renewables-based portfolios have consistently and significantly outperformed traditional energy stocks for the past 10 years. Any bank executive who doesnt want to do more business in one of the economys most profitable sectors should probably be fired. Based on the financing record of the banks revealed on March 24, explicit decisions from the C-suite have been made to continue to offer lines of credit and underwrite fossil fuel companies to the tune of billions.
Which brings us back to the why of this story. Why are RBC and the other Canadian banks choosing to continue to do business with the companies that are at the forefront of driving the climate crisis we are facing today and in the years to come? The simple answer is that the banks are still making money in the short term off this line of business. Mergers, acquisitions, short-term revolving credit facilities make money for banks regardless of the industry.
When RBC proclaims the transition cant be too disruptive or that it needs to be there to help the likes of Enbridge, its simply an excuse to continue to bank on climate destruction.
Richard Brooks is the climate finance director with Stand.earth.
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Make Your Voice Heard
Make sure to tell your bank what you think of their climate-wrecking investments. Even if you are not a customer of a particular bank, you can still help put pressure on, for example through the email actions below or on their Facebook page.
You can also tweet at your bank using the Rainforest Action Network’s Banking on Climate Change website to show your stance on their investments into fossil fuels.
How Do Banks Fund Fossil Fuel Interests
Banks support the fossil fuel industry by directly financing extraction companies or establishing their own independent companies that engage in fossil fuel extraction. For example, JPMorgan Chase, considered by many experts to be the worlds largest financier of fossil fuels, invests in companies that are aggressively expanding their fracking operations. Until recently, it was directly funding new coal fire plants and oil drilling projects in the protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And in 2020, when the global pandemic caused oil prices to drop, many big banks rushed to set up independent companies to take over shale extraction infrastructure left behind by oil companies going bankrupt. Banks see fossil fuels as one of the most profitable industries on the planet. For decades they have bankrolled oil companies because of a short-sighted view of quick profits. But increased public criticism is beginning to highlight their destructive impact, which if not restricted soon, will cause widespread environmental damage.
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The Long Road To Changing The Conversation Around Banks Role In Financing A Climate Crisis
All the banks with meetings this week , joined a coalition at last falls climate conference in Glasgow aligning their financing with reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Despite that pledge, the same banks all still fund fossil fuel development that ensures they are not aligned with these longer-term targets.
Now we need to see the policies that will actually make that happen, Loren Blackford, the investor committee chair of the Sierra Club Foundations board of directors, said.
To that end, SCFs proposal requested Goldman Sachs commit to proactive measures to ensure that the firms lending and underwritten activities do not contribute to new fossil fuel development.
It argued there were two problems: that Goldman Sachss prominence in asserting climate leadership flies in the face of its actions, creating reputation risk from accusations of greenwashing and that the bank is putting its long-term stability and gains at risk by pouring money into a dying industry knowingly loading potentially stranded assets onto its clients balance sheets, creating litigation risk.
Big banks are indeed continuing to fund fossil fuel expansion: Last year alone, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America spent a combined $137 billion on fossil fuel projects, according to a report from a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, Banking on Climate Chaos.
There are a few reasons for this.
What Kinds Of Fossil Fuel Projects Are Being Funded
Every year, the Rainforest Action Network works with BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, and the Sierra Club to record which banks are providing funding to a variety of fossil fuel industries. They keep track of financing completed for oil extraction from tar sands, the arctic, fracked oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, coal mining, and coal power plants. To do this, they follow over 2,300 companies to see which banks and investors are financing their projects every year. We review that report annually and share their key takeaways.
Despite the fact that the risks of climate change have received more attention and focus, funding for fossil fuels has increased annually, with fossil fuel financing totaling $751 billion in 2020 just from the worlds 60 largest banks alone.
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Our Climate Change Impact Rating For Banks
Our latest research, conducted as part of our guides to ethical banking and ethical savings accounts, asked how banks were measuring the climate impacts of projects they were lending to and what their plans were to change practices to meet globally agreed targets. The 36 banks and building societies were then rated as either a best, middle or worst for their carbon management and reporting.
Worryingly our research found that only two of the thirty six companies reviewed clearly demonstrated effective plans to reduce their carbon impacts in time, with 94% of retail banks failing to convince on climate strategy.
Only two small ethical lenders, Triodos Bank and the Ecology Building Society, appeared to have properly grasped the seriousness of the situation and received a best rating. They had both partnered with the Dutch Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials in order to report their carbon emissions, including those in their loans and investments. Both received a best rating.
In April 2020, ShareAction also published a report ranking the 20 largest European banks on their responses to climate change.
The average score was just 39.9%, suggesting that they had a long way to go. Eight of the banks in our guides appeared in ShareActions report. BNP Paribas and Lloyds Bank were rated as leaders scoring 63.2% and 61.7% respectively.
Sustainable Banks In The Us: What They Are And A List Of Eco
Mighty Deposits Guide, 2021 Edition
For environmentally-conscious consumers, being intentional about where you keep your savings can be a great way to take further control over your environmental impact. If youre committed to reducing your carbon footprint perhaps spending time recycling, protesting, and purchasing eco-friendly products then its essential to ensure your own money in the bank isnt undermining your other efforts.
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What Is Active Stewardship
Active stewardship refers to the actions that investors like RBC GAM can take to better understand and influence the activities of companies in which they invest . We often express our views through:
- Engagement with issuers, either directly or together with other like-minded investors. Engagement allows us to learn about how issuers are approaching opportunities and key risks in their business due to climate change.
- Proxy voting on management and shareholder proposals. Proposals from shareholders often relate to climate change.
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A History Of Successful Shareholder Resolutions
As You Sow has a long history of enabling change throughout the U.S. corporate structure. In 2019 alone, the group filed 93 shareholder resolutions after negotiations failed to implement new strategies.
Resolutions happen when engagement with a company doesnt go the way we want it to, Behar said. We want them to agree to our terms which could be anything from stopping the use of plastics, issues around climate change, or halting pesticide use.
After filing those resolutions, we successfully negotiated and came to terms on 61 of them before the vote, Behar said. Another 21 went to vote and we received an average of 27% of the vote.
Behar noted that the votes that take place at these meetings are non-binding meaning the company doesnt have to adhere to the terms. The goal isnt solely for shareholders to get their way. By addressing these issues, companies reduce their overall risk and polish their brands in the eyes of most consumers.
Over the last three years, weve negotiated with basically every major fast-food company and got them to agree to stop using antibiotics in their poultry, he said. That led to Perdue, Sanderson, and other big producers stopping use of them.
These changes came about through the efforts of nonprofits, such as As You Sow, that play a major part in keeping corporations accountable for their actions and practices.
Canadas Five Largest Banks Have A Big Problem Fossil Fuels
Canadas five largest banks have a problem. And its a big one. Big to the tune of $726 billion, according to the new Banking on Climate Chaos report published March 24. RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC and BMO have poured that much money into fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement was signed Dec. 12, 2015. RBC is at the top of the list in Canada and is the worlds fifth-largest financier of fossil fuels and its not just oil and gas. Despite it being the 21st century, RBC keeps financing the fuel of the 19th century, putting more than $14 billion into coal mining and coal-related companies from 2018 to 2020.
Its a shameful record for our banking industry. One that needs to change.
Its clear that we are not accelerating fast enough to the just, green and equitable future that we all need. Global emissions continue to climb despite a blip from pandemic-related shutdowns. Indigenous rights-violating and air-polluting projects are continuing to get built. One of the things that is slowing us down is every dollar that continues to go into fossil fuel companies and expansion projects. Those holding our savings and mortgages and controlling the flow of money into coal, oil and gas RBC and the rest of Canadian banking gang need to wake up and smell the CO2.
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