Report comes ahead of shareholder votes on fossil fuel expansion at six largest U.S. banks and major insurance companies
Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that existing and planned fossil fuel projects are more than the climate can handle, confirming that without sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel use, we are, as Antonio Guterres says, “on a fast track to climate disaster.” The report also warns investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C.
The damning report comes as investors prepare to vote on a slate of shareholder resolutions at the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) of the six biggest US banks and several major US insurance companies. The resolutions call for financial companies to stop all financing activities for new fossil fuel expansion. Ahead of the AGMs, Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of over 200 organizations, has launched a campaign to encourage investors to vote yes on the resolutions. Stop the Money Pipeline is also pushing banks and insurance companies to pass policies, ahead of their AGMs, that would prohibit lending, underwriting and insuring to corporations engaged in fossil fuel expansion.
In the five years after the Paris Agreement was adopted, six US Banks ― JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs ― provided nearly $500 billion in lending and underwriting to the 100 corporations most aggressively expanding fossil fuel operations, including Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and Gazprom. Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America are the world’s four largest providers of lending and underwriting to those same 100 companies. US-based insurance giants AIG, Travelers, Liberty Mutual, and Chubb are among the top ten insurance providers to the oil and gas industry, globally.
Meanwhile, the Securities and Exchange Commission is receiving comments on its proposed climate risk disclosure rule that will require companies to disclose their climate-related risks and emissions.
Members of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition released the following statements:
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
“This latest report, though reinforcing the urgency for climate action, sadly also uplifts market-based scams as solutions, thereby promoting the ongoing colonization of Indigenous peoples and our homelands. Projects such as carbon capture, solar radiation management and carbon pricing merely represent another money-making frontier for setters and colonizers. It is a horrific expansion of a deeply flawed, unjust and unethical system. We call on the IPCC and world leaders to listen to Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth to focus their future western research projects on keeping fossil fuels in the ground and rapidly declining fossil fuel production overall.”
Laurel Sutherlin, Communications Strategist, Rainforest Action Network:
“Reading this latest IPCC report alongside the just published Banking on Climate Chaos report gives the impression that scientists and bankers are living on two different planets. On the actual planet earth, we are on a path to blow past our carbon budget and condemn billions of people to suffer through the most catastrophic consequences of human-induced climate crisis. While somehow, in the insular, theoretical world inhabited by big bankers, it remains morally and economically viable to continue shoveling tens of billions of dollars into evermore fossil fuel infrastructure expansion. This recklessness will be paid for in human lives. Financing for fossil fuel expansion must end immediately.”
Yevgeny Shrago, Policy Director, Public Citizen’s Climate Program: “When banks, insurers and asset managers finance climate chaos, they also increase the risks posed by the necessary, inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy. The report finds that a transition that limits global warming to 2°C will strand up to $4 trillion in fossil fuel assets and infrastructure. Limiting warming to 1.5°C will render an even greater value of fossil fuel investments worthless. If banks won’t voluntarily stop inflating the carbon bubble, we need regulators to step in and keep the financial system safe.”
Richard Brooks, Stand.earth Climate Finance Campaign Director: “Banks, insurance companies, and institutional investors like pension funds are the great enablers of the exact climate chaos this IPCC report is warning us against. By financing fossil fuel companies, our financial institutions are bankrolling the continued production and burning of coal, oil, and gas — driving up methane and carbon pollution at the very time the IPCC report tells us we need to do the exact opposite: urgently and rapidly slash emissions, and invest in climate solutions. Fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest banks has reached nearly USD $4.6 trillion in the six years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, with $742 billion in 2021 alone.”
Jamal Raad, Evergreen Action Executive Director:
“Today’s IPCC report once again makes clear what science has been telling us for years: for a shot at a liveable future, we must get off fossil fuels as fast as possible. Scientists and experts across the board have already outlined what must be done to defend our most vulnerable communities, protect our collective liveable future, and mitigate the worst effects of climate change. We must act now—not in six months, not after an election year; now.”
Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN): “Fossil fuels are causing escalating catastrophic harms to our communities and planet. The most recent IPCC report clearly states that existing fossil fuel infrastructure alone will make the 1.5°C target of the Paris Climate Agreement impossible to achieve. Right now, banks, asset management firms and insurance companies have an opportunity and an obligation to respond urgently to science. They must end their deadly relationship with the fossil fuel industry, and instead invest in healthy and justice-centered solutions to combat the climate crisis. We are out of time— everyone needs to immediately stop business as usual to ensure a habitable and thriving Earth for current and future generations.”
Kevin Koenig, Climate and Energy Director, Amazon Watch: “The latest IPCC report affirms what Indigenous peoples in the Amazon and across the world have been saying for decades: colonialism caused the climate crisis, and colonialism continues to worsen it today. For financial institutions, real climate action requires fundamental enshrinement of the rights of Indigenous peoples, an immediate end to financing and investment in fossil fuel extraction, and deforestation in Indigenous territories, and the return and protection of Indigenous lands. Any financial institution that does not commit to ending fossil fuel expansion and to honoring Indigenous rights is complicit in the climate colonialism that threatens our planet.”
Brett Fleishman, Director of Finance Campaigns, 350.org:
“IPCC report on climate change mitigation made two important points regarding climate change and fossil fuel finance. The first is that finance flows for fossil fuels are still greater than those for climate adaptation and mitigation. And the second is that meeting the US government’s climate goals of limiting global warming to 2⁰C or below will leave a substantial amount of fossil fuels unburned – up to $4 trillion in stranded assets. We need our government and financial regulators to wake up to this contradiction.”
Mary Cerulli, Founder, Climate Finance Action: Big investors like pension funds and the asset managers they hire are poised to make a big difference. In one sense, the IPCC’s most recent findings are a cause for optimism, reiterating the idea that Paris goals are achievable, albeit difficult, so long as the right action is taken. The question, as ever, is whether it will be.