Wall Street’s Biggest Banks Back New Climate Initiative; Climate Advocates Raise Questions

San Francisco – Four of America’s largest banks, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, have announced as Founding Partners of the Center for Climate Aligned Finance, a new initiative by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The banks’ involvement seems to be a response to the growing pressure they are facing from climate activists to take responsibility for their substantial role in financing the fossil fuel industry driving the climate crisis. 

Jason Opeña Disterhoft, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network, said:

“This new initiative will be one to pay close attention to. It could drive real steps toward banks aligning with 1.5°C — but it could also be used as an excuse for banks to keep supporting the world’s worst climate polluters.

“We should be clear about the stakes. The four founding partner banks include three of the top four fossil banks in the world, and together are responsible for more than $700 billion in fossil financing since Paris — more than a quarter of fossil financing from major global banks in that period. The four of them bank a clear majority of the companies doing the most to expand oil, gas and coal. 

“The basic steps that banks must take to align their financing with 1.5°C are already clear. First, immediately stop supporting projects and companies expanding fossil fuels. Second, commit to phasing out fossil financing on a 1.5°C-aligned timeline — including by dropping clients that are failing to decarbonize with the speed that science demands. 

“This initiative must not become a diversion from those core tasks, or an excuse to avoid taking the steps we all need. At this point, climate delay is effectively climate denial, and it’s deadly.”