Over a Trillion Financed in Fossil Fuel Expansion; Billions by US Banks Since the Paris Agreement

“Wall Street’s Dirtiest Secret” Exposes How Much Banks Finance Fossil Fuel Expansion and Exploitation

OAKLAND — As part of finance day of COP27 the Rainforest Action Network exposed startling facts on banks in Net Zero Banking Alliance. Wall Street’s biggest banks are financing client companies who are actively expanding fossil fuels at ever-increasing levels. Read the report here, as first reported by Marketwatch.  

Wall Street’s Dirtiest Secret: How Fossil Fuel Expansion Depends on Big Bank Finance details that the top 6 US banks financed $445 billion to the top 100 companies expanding in oil, gas, and coal globally since the Paris climate agreements. The report digs into data from Banking on Climate Chaos 2022, which shows that the top 60 banks, by assets, globally provided $1.3 trillion to those 100 expanding companies. Financing by JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs accounts for a whopping 33% of the funding provided by those 60 banks.

“This report puts in one place exactly how much the top US banks contribute to the expansion of fossil fuels. Companies aiming for a sustainable future must reconcile their aspirations with their profit motives. Banks say a lot, but unless their financial actions are drastically altered we can’t take them seriously when it comes to climate. Billions must be invested in a just transition, not in polluters’ endless expansion of fossil fuels and their short-term profits.” – April Merleaux, Research Manager for Rainforest Action Network

Wall Street’s clients – including Exxon, Saudi Aramco, BP, Shell, and TotalEnergies – not only are not transitioning away from fossil fuels, these companies are some of the world’s biggest expanders. Expansion projects face community resistance, run roughshod over human rights, and face substantial risk of becoming stranded assets as climate chaos worsens.

Wall Street’s Dirtiest Secret defines fossil fuel expansion explicitly and calls on banks to stop financing expansion at every stage from mining and drilling through power generation. 

In 2021, over 100 banks, including these six, signed on to the Net Zero Banking Alliance, thereby committing to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, transparent emissions reporting, and interim targets for a transition to a low carbon future. Virtually every single one of the world’s top banks by assets continues to fund fossil fuel expansion.

“The outsized role of Wall Street in driving fossil fuel expansion globally is deeply alarming. US banks lack policies even to stop finance to the companies expanding coal mines and power – while globally more than 40 banks, investors and insurers have already stopped financing coal developers. Given the US’s historic responsibility for CO2 levels in the atmosphere, climate justice means that the US financial sector must lead a massive redirection of funding from fossil fuels to clean energy. ”  – Paddy McCully, Senior Analyst for Paris-based NGO Reclaim Finance 

Wall Street’s Dirtiest Secret is endorsed by the Giniw Collective, Indigenous Environmental Network, Mazaska Talks, BankTrack, Healthy Gulf, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club, The Sunset Project, Urgewald, and the The Vessel Project of Louisiana.