Activists organized by Rainforest Action Network protest at an RBC branch in downtown Calgary in 2008. The Canadian bank ranked as the top financier of fossil fuels in 2022. PHOTO/ Visible Hand (CC BY 2.0)
By SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
While the window for avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change narrows, the global banking sector continues to funnel huge sums each year into fossil fuels, finds a new report. Last year alone, the 60 largest banks financed fossil fuels to the tune of $673 billion.
That’s according to a new analysis released today by Rainforest Action Network and partner organizations. The latest Banking on Climate Chaos report, which annually examines global fossil fuel financing from major commercial and investor banks, reveals the extent to which banks are backing various categories of fossil fuels and their expansion.
According to Des Mog, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) topped the list of the biggest fossil fuel financiers for 2022, pouring $42.1 billion into the sector.
“It’s obscene that the Royal Bank of Canada is now the world’s dirtiest banker for fossil fuels — CEO Dave McKay should be ashamed. While we work to advance climate action at all levels, RBC is moving in completely the wrong direction, dragging our climate ambitions backwards and positioning Canadian banks as fossil fuels’ lenders of last resort,” Richard Brooks, climate finance director at Stand.earth, said in a statement.
Still, U.S. banks dominate the funding landscape, accounting for more than a quarter of all fossil fuel financing in 2022. That’s despite JPMorgan Chase falling from its six-year streak in the top spot to second, handing out nearly $40 billion last year.
But since the Paris Agreement came into effect in 2016, JPMorgan Chase has been the largest single financier of fossil fuels, at a total of $434 billion. Fellow U.S. banks Citi, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America round out the top five since 2016. In the years after nearly 200 nations pledged to limit global heating, the world’s biggest banks have spent $5.5 trillion on fossil fuels.
JPMorgan Chase did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the analysis, while fossil fuel companies reported record profits of $4 trillion in 2022, the top 60 banks still shelled out more than half a trillion dollars to the sector. Overall fossil fuel financing was lower than the previous year, but the report finds this was due to “unusual geopolitical and economic conditions, not shifts in bank policy.”
Global energy market turmoil stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, skyrocketing oil and gas prices, and record fossil fuel profiteering meant that some companies had little need for bank financing. “Several big players in the oil and gas sector did not borrow in 2022,” the report explains, including Shell, ExxonMobil, Suncor, and Occidental Petroleum.
Read the detailed report from Des Mog here.