Morgan Stanley 5th Major U.S. Bank to End Arctic Oil Financing; Bank of America Now Stands Alone

Rainforest Action Network acknowledges step forward for Morgan Stanley but says far more must be done.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 23, 2020 — In response to today’s updated environmental policy from Morgan Stanley, Rainforest Action Network’s climate and energy senior campaigner, Jason Opeña Disterhoft, issued the following statement: 

“Today’s coal and Arctic policy from Morgan Stanley means that in just the last five months, five of the big six U.S. banks have ruled out Arctic oil and/or gas extraction projects — and four have tightened the screws on coal, ruling out coal plants and mines worldwide and committing to phase out financing for many coal mining companies.

“The last five months have seen a genuine step forward from U.S. banks on fossil fuels. The Arctic is now a no-go zone for fossil projects. And this new set of policies will further accelerate coal becoming unbankable. 

“While these policies represent real progress, U.S. banks have a long way to go to catch up to their global peers, let alone truly align with climate stability. The next steps are ending funding for expansion of fossil fuels and committing to phasing out all fossil finance. Support for tar sands oil, and for companies expanding coal power, are immediate litmus tests. 

“Morgan Stanley’s policy also means that all eyes are now on Bank of America, the only major U.S. bank not to have updated its fossil financing policy in recent months. For the company that showed genuine global leadership by being the first bank to step away from coal mining in 2015, this is an embarrassing development. Bank of America will now have to not just match but exceed what its U.S. peers have done.”


On April 23, 2020, Morgan Stanley updated its environmental policy, including the following new measures on fossil fuels. The bank:

  • Prohibits direct finance for new or expanded coal-fired power plants
  • Prohibits direct finance for new thermal coal mines, and commits to phasing out financing for significant thermal coal mining companies that do not have a diversification strategy
  • Prohibits direct finance for new oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

This follows similar policies since last December on coal and Arctic oil and gas from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citi, and a more limited coal policy from Wells Fargo.