Ginny Cleaveland, Deputy Press Secretary, Fossil-Free Finance, Sierra Club, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415-508-8498 (Pacific Time)
San Francisco — Released today, the 14th annual Banking on Climate Chaos report is the most comprehensive global analysis on fossil fuel banking. Endorsed by over 625 organizations from 75 countries, it reveals the truth of banks’ commitments to the climate by examining their financing of the fossil fuel industry.
- Read the report: bankingonclimatechaos.org
For the first time since 2019, a Canadian bank is the #1 annual financier of fossil fuels rather than US bank JP Morgan Chase. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) showered fossil fuel projects with $42.1 billion dollars in 2022, including $4.8 billion for tar sands and $7.4 billion into fracking. Canadian banks are becoming the banks of last resort for fossil fuels, providing $862 billion to fossil fuel companies since the Paris Agreement. RBC continues to bankroll expansion projects like the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline. That project violates human rights and Indigenous sovereignty, and has proceeded without consent from Wet’suwet’en Hereditary leadership.
The report shows that overall, U.S. banks dominate fossil fuel financing, accounting for 28% of all fossil fuel financing in 2022. JPMorgan Chase remains the world’s worst funder of climate chaos since the Paris Agreement. Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are still among the top 5 fossil financiers since 2016.
“In a critical year for climate action, fossil fuel giants doubled down on reckless expansion projects and walked back their climate commitments. Meanwhile, major US banks stalled on their net-zero plans and failed to adopt stronger and more robust financing restrictions for companies pushing unsustainable fossil fuel expansion. As big banks face shareholder votes in the coming weeks, we will keep up pressure on banks and investors to adopt credible policies to achieve their climate commitments and take real steps to accelerate the clean energy transition,” said Adele Shraiman, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club's Fossil-Free Finance Campaign.
In the seven years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, the world’s 60 largest private banks financed fossil fuels with USD $5.5 trillion. The report lays bare the shocking fact that even as fossil fuel companies made $4 trillion in profits in 2022, banks still provided $673 billion in financing. Remarkably, this happened while oil majors like Exxon Mobil and Shell PLC asked for $0 financing from banks in 2022.
While Europeans and Ukrainians called for a transition to renewables to stop funding Russian atrocities, fossil fuel companies doubled down on expansion and weakened their climate commitments. The top 30 companies expanding LNG used the crisis to secure nearly 50% more financing in 2022 compared to 2021 from the banks in the report — even as most energy experts agree that the LNG expansion plans in Europe are unnecessary, and new projects would contribute to a supply glut and long-term dependence on this fossil fuel.
The report includes detailed maps of this explosion of expansion projects in the US Gulf Coast and the Philippines. It also features case studies of climate leaders in Myanmar and the Philippines who are resisting the devastating effect of fossil fuel expansion.
Global banks’ net zero pledges have netted nothing so far, according to the report. Forty nine of the 60 banks profiled in the report made net zero commitments, but most are not paired with rigorous policies excluding finance for fossil fuel expansion. The policies contain many loopholes that allow banks to continue financing fossil fuel clients. Banks with restrictions on Arctic project financing, for example, nevertheless financed ConocoPhillips, which is developing the Willow project in the Arctic, the largest proposed oil project in the United States.
As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change affirmed in its March 2023 report, to give humanity a chance at avoiding unacceptable harm to millions of people alive today and countless generations to come, fossil fuel expansion must stop, and use of fossil fuels across all sectors must decline sharply. They assert that the window of opportunity to remain below 1.5˚C and to build a secure, liveable, and sustainable future is rapidly closing.
“Our window of opportunity for keeping global warming below 1.5ºC is closing fast. We need a people-centered energy transition now. Profits now are a false economy because we simply cannot afford to continue burning fossil fuels – the costs down the road will be devastating. Fossil fuel companies are the ones dousing the planet in oil, gas, and coal, but big banks hold the matches. Without financing, fossil fuels won’t burn,” said April Merleaux , Research and Policy Manager at Rainforest Action Network.
Banking on Climate Chaos is authored by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, and Urgewald. Over 550 organizations from more than 70 countries around the world endorsed the report and are calling on banks to stop funding climate destruction.
Fossil fuel sector trends
- Expansion: The 60 banks profiled in this report funneled $150 billion in 2022 into the top 100 companies expanding fossil fuels, including TC Energy, TotalEnergies, Venture Global, ConocoPhillips, and Saudi Aramco.
- Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): The top bankers of liquefied “natural” gas (LNG) in 2022 were Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Mizuho, ING, Citi, and SMBC Group. Overall finance for LNG increased nearly 50% from $15.2 billion in 2021 to $22.7 billion in 2022.
- Tar sands oil: The top tar sands companies received $21.0 billion in financing in 2022, led by the biggest Canadian banks, who provided 89% of those funds. TD, RBC, and Bank of Montreal top the list.
- Arctic oil and gas: Chinese banks ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China, and China Construction Bank led financing for Arctic oil and gas, which totaled $2.9 billion for the top companies in this sector in 2022. 26 banks are still financing Arctic oil and gas, including U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Bank of America.
- Amazon oil and gas: Spanish bank Santander leads financing for companies extracting in the Amazon biome, followed closely by U.S. bank Citi. Financing totaled $769 million in 2022.
- Fracked oil and gas: Finance for fracking companies totaled $67.0 billion dollars in 2022, which is an 8% increase over the financing reported in 2021 for the top fracking companies. This increase is especially disturbing given the extreme methane emissions from fracking. RBC and JPMorgan Chase are the top financiers of fracked oil and gas for 2022 and since the Paris Agreement.
- Offshore oil and gas: European banks BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, and Japanese bank SMBC Group top the list of worst financiers of offshore oil and gas for 2022. Financing totaled $34 billion in 2022.
- Coal mining: Of the $13.0 billion in financing that went to the world’s 30 largest coal mining companies, 87% was provided by banks located in China, led by China CITIC Bank, China Everbright Bank, and Industrial Bank.
- Coal power: Of the financing to the world’s top 30 companies in coal power, 97% of financing was provided by Chinese banks. These companies, which have plans to expand coal power capacity, received $29.5 billion from the profiled banks in 2022.
Full data sets – including fossil fuel finance data, policy scores, and stories from the frontlines – are available for download at bankingonclimatechaos.org.
Additional quotes from authoring, frontline, and key organizations including Center for Energy, Ecology & Development, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, Stand.earth, and Urgewald, are available at bankingonclimatechaos.org.
Quotes from elected officials
“Corporate greed is killing us. Despite the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel companies making $4 trillion in profits in 2022, the world’s largest banks still provided $673 billion in financing for projects that are poisoning our communities and destroying the planet. This report makes it clear that banks’ ‘net zero’ commitments aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on – they’re simply cheap PR cover for pouring fuel on the climate crisis. Banks will not act in the public interest unless we force them to, and while grassroots movements around the world continue to build pressure, it’s long past time that the Federal Reserve, White House, and Congress take more aggressive action that meets this critical moment for the planet.” -Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich)
“Climate risk is a financial risk that poses an existential threat to our economy. As this important new report shows, big banks are financing fossil fuels by the billions, contributing to the climate crisis, and threatening the stability of our financial systems. That is why Congress must pass my Fossil Free Finance Act — to protect Americans’ savings, reject backwards-looking and risky investments into fossil fuels, and move toward a clean energy future that supercharges our economy.” -Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass)
“Big banks continue to funnel money into risky fossil fuel investments, ignoring the looming costs and economic risks of climate upheaval we are documenting in the Senate Budget Committee. By turning their backs on their climate pledges and doubling down on their support for the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street banks are increasing the likelihood of systemic risks to the economy, including a coastal property values collapse, a carbon bubble crash, and insurance market turmoil. Neither our planet nor our economy can afford these massive investments in new fossil fuel projects." -Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee
“This report demonstrates that banks and regulators must act with urgency to confront climate-related financial risks. Wall Street needs to be held accountable for its role in exacerbating the climate crisis and be part of the solution toward building a more resilient financial and environmental future for all.” -Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)
The following Sierra Club representatives are available for comment about the report:
- Adele Shraiman, Fossil-Free Finance senior campaign representative: Beginning at 12am PT / 3am ET / 8am BST on Thursday, April 13
- Ben Cushing, Fossil-Free Finance campaign director: Beginning at 5am PT / 8am ET / 1pm BST on Thursday, April 13
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.