PARIS (AFP) – The world’s leading banks have provided the fossil fuel industry with USD3.8 trillion in financing in the five years following the signing of the Paris climate accord, a group of non-governmental organisations (NGO) said on Tuesday.
While financing dropped last year as oil output plunged thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the report found that it was still higher than in 2016, the year after the signing of the Paris Agreement where nations agreed to cut back CO2 emissions to limit the rise in global temperatures.
“The overall fossil fuel financing trend of the last five years is still heading definitively in the wrong direction,” said the report by NGOs including Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Oil Change International and Sierra Club.
The report called for “banks to establish policies that lock in the fossil fuel financing declines of 2020, lest they snap back to business-as-usual in 2021”.
It found that United States (US) banks remained the top bankers to fossil fuel companies last year, with JPMorgan Chase coming in first, followed by Citi and Bank of America.
If their financing for the fossil fuel industry dropped, French banks, in particular BNP Paribas, actually increased their support.
Italy’s UniCredit earned top marks for policies to restrict financing for fossil fuels, although the report noted it earned only half the points possible.
It said the findings underscore “that the banking sector remains far from committing to a complete exit from fossil fuel financing”.
The report also noted that many banks, like governments and companies, are making commitments reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but have yet to provide plans that don’t rely upon lots of offsetting and rosy assumptions about technological advances.
“No bank making a climate commitment for 2050 should be taken seriously unless it also acts on fossil fuels in 2021,” said the NGOs.