Banks say they’re acting on climate, but continue to finance fossil fuel expansion
(Inside Climate News, 13 Apr 2023) Two new reports say banks are not shifting away from fossil fuels fast enough. While lending declined last year, it was likely because oil companies were “swimming in profits.”
If money makes the world go round, it should be no surprise that fossil fuel still powers the global economy. Ever since world leaders reached the Paris climate agreement in 2015 to limit warming and slash the pollution driving it, environmental groups have chronicled the continued flow of finance from the wealthiest banks to the oil and gas industry.
Climate advocates have been increasing the pressure on banks to change course, and many lenders have responded by adopting policies to reduce the climate pollution generated by their vast portfolios. Some have also pledged to stop financing certain types of fossil fuel extraction altogether, such as coal mining and Arctic drilling. But have those policies made any difference?
A pair of new reports provides a muddled picture. Banks lent significantly less money to fossil fuel companies last year, according to a report by a collection of environmental groups led by Rainforest Action Network. However, the decline was likely driven not by choices the banks made, the report said, but because oil companies were sitting on so much cash they didn’t need to borrow any. Many oil firms, including ExxonMobil and Chevron, earned record profits last year.
Inside Climate News, 13 Apr 2023: Banks say they’re acting on climate, but continue to finance fossil fuel expansion