Chase Releases 2023 Climate Report: Greenwashing and Inaction from World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Funder

(San Francisco, CA) — JPMorgan Chase’s newly released 2023 Climate Report is shocking in the lack of meaningful and urgent action the bank is willing to take to address our climate crisis.

JPMC is the world’s biggest fossil fuel financier — financing a staggering $434 billion (through 2022) to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement went into effect in 2016. It is also the largest financier of fossil fuel expansion at a time we can afford no new infrastructure

Yet instead of working to phase out fossil fuel clients from their portfolio, JPMorgan has crafted a newly minted greenwash calculation — calling it an “energy mix target.” The “energy mix target” is a new metric that will combine financing for  “zero-carbon power generation” with various fossil fuel emissions — rather than a straightforward reporting on emissions from fossil fuel clients.

This new calculation will make it virtually impossible to compare year-to-year progress in real terms. It is another example in a long line of industry shell games — such as “reducing carbon intensity” or “trading carbon credits’ — which only serves to distract from inaction and enables industry giants to delay immediate steps to address the climate crisis in which they are deeply complicit. 

JPMC is to be lauded for scaling up financing for renewables and other climate solutions. But more importantly they must phase down finance for fossil fuels.

“While financial institutions must urgently scale up financing of sustainable clean energy systems it is even more urgent to phase down finance for fossil fuels in line with 1.5 C pathways,” said Ernesto Archila, Banks Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “There is simply no room for continued fossil fuel expansion if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate catastrophe. That means an immediate end to financing for companies expanding in oil, gas, and coal.”

JPMC’s emissions reduction strategy for oil and gas emphasizes monitoring methane emissions as part of its due diligence and engagement with clients. This is a welcome first step — especially when compared to its Wall Street peers such as Bank of America. Unfortunately, the bank’s weak approach of advising clients — politely asking them to monitor, report, and reduce methane emissions — does little to hold clients accountable for pollution. Their client, Callon Petroleum, for example, was fined $1.3 million in July 2023 by the EPA for not controlling their methane emissions. The EPA estimated that they released 4,635,498 lbs of methane annually, enough to power 7,420 homes’ energy use for one year. JPMC has provided Callon with almost $4 billion in financing since 2016, including $418 million in 2022.

“JPMC is right to focus on near-term methane reductions from oil and gas operations — these are easy and cost-effective,” said April Merleaux, Research Manager at Rainforest Action Network. “They are a minimum, though, at a moment when we know that the window for climate action is shrinking. JPMorgan Chase’s approach relies too much on voluntary measures. In the final analysis, it seems like a green light to continue financing polluting fossil fuel companies.” 

JPMC’s focus on methane emissions in the oil and gas sector also misses the major source of methane in that industry: liquefied methane gas for export and import (incorrectly called LNG by the industry). This product, touted as a climate solution, is 95% methane. JPMC is bankrolling methane liquefaction facilities in the US Gulf that are polluting without consequences. For example, it is the only Wall Street bank to participate in the recent Final Investment Decision for the Rio Grande LNG project in Brownsville, Texas — over the sustained and strenuous objections of local and Indigenous communities.

“As the world’s largest funder of fossil expansion, JPMorgan Chase bears more responsibility for having caused the climate crisis than any other bank in the world,” said  Alec Connon, Stop the Money Pipeline co-director. “Unfortunately, the steps that they have announced today are a woefully inadequate response to this crisis that they have helped to cause.”

By continuing to provide billions of dollars to fossil fuel companies like TransCanada Pipelines, ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabian Oil — companies that are investing in massive expansion of fossil fuel capacity — JPMC is fanning the flames of the climate crisis and making itself deeply complicit in the human rights violations that stem from it.