Major banks ramped up fossil fuel financing to $115 billion in 2017
Banks increased extreme fossil fuel financing last year, led by a more than doubling in lending to tar sands companies and pipelines. A report by Rainforest Action Network (RAN) details international bank investments and is accompanied by an interactive chart on which you can see what your bank is doing with your money.
RAN’s Banking on Climate Change 2018 tracks 36 of the world’s biggest banks and ranks bank policies and practices related to the financing of some of the most carbon-intensive, financially risky, and environmentally destructive fossil fuel sectors. The report also details the negative impacts of these sectors on human rights, Indigenous rights and community health and well-being.
Despite 2017 being the costliest year on record for weather disasters, these 36 institutions funneled $115 billion into extreme fossil fuels in 2017, an increase of 11% from 2016. The single biggest driver of the increase in financing came from the tar sands sector, where financing grew by 111% from 2016 to 2017. The massive hike in bank support for tar sands to nearly $47 billion, led tar sands to overtake coal power as the most heavily funded extreme energy sector.
At the same time, there is room for optimism on other news that reports in investment in FFs is going down. The World Bank, for instance, is officially phasing out its support for the oil and gas industries.
Canadian banks and JPMorgan Chase overtook Chinese banks
The RAN report finds that while some European banks have realized the risks and put policy restrictions on some of their fossil fuel financing, major players elsewhere have done little to adopt policies that would bring their activities in line with the Paris Agreement.
With some of the sharpest upticks in financing since 2016, Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, and JPMorgan Chase all passed the coal-heavy Chinese banks to become the biggest bankers of extreme fossil fuels last year. JPMorgan Chase increased funding to coal mining by a shocking 21 times and quadrupled its financing of tar sands oil.
On the interactive ratings grid, you can get report card style gradings for the 36 banks in each of 6 categories: Arctic Oil, Coal Mining, Coal Power, LNG Export, Tar Sands, Ultradeep. The banks are grouped by region: North America, Europe, Asia & Australia.
When you click on the category header the grades for each bank change accordingly. Spoiler alert: there are not a lot of A++ ratings and gold stars being taken home.
There is also a drop-down menu to explore the patterns in bank financing for extreme fossil fuels by sector and over time.
Human costs also examined
In addition to the stark numbers, the report includes stories about those who are effected by extreme fossil exploration and exploitation.
One of the case studies looks at Enbridge’s new Line 3 which would tranport three quarters of a million barrels of tar sands crude per day. The proposed line would stretch 1,000 miles from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin and through the lands of 5 Ojibwe bands: the White Earth, Mille Lacs, Red Lake, Leech Lake and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Other case studies look the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon and potential oil drilling in the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf and opening of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to fossil fuel development.
The Banking on Climate Change 2018 report was put together by the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor The Earth and is endorsed by over 50 organizations around the world.