How does your bank relate to climate crisis? Sure, there’s what you do with your money (which your bank keeps for you), but there’s another thing: it’s likely that your bank is funding the fossil fuel industry, which itself doesn’t plan to limit climate crisis.
$5.5 trillion! Since the adoption of the Paris agreement, which plans to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the biggest banks in the world have lent all this money to invest in fossil fuel exploitations: coal, gas, oil. For several years, a group of NGOs has published the sad list of banks that finance the most this “climate chaos” in the process of being installed.
The figures for 2022 are no more encouraging than in previous years: the largest banking groups have pourred $673 billion into the accounts of companies exploiting fossil fuels. That’s slightly less than previous years, but in that same year, fossil companies made record profits with high energy prices: $4 trillion.
What is this money for? The money lent by banks to fossil companies allows them to invest in fossil extraction infrastructure, to extract more fossil fuels. Extracting and transforming these fuels already emits a lot of greenhouse gases. But once consumed, these fossil fuels are transformed into CO2, the main greenhouse gas.
However, scientists and experts are unanimous: in order to stay below 1.5°C of warming, we must not create new infrastructures. The “carbon budget”, the maximum amount of greenhouse gases we can burn, is already exceeded if the existing reserves are used.
Have the banks never heard of climate change? They do, most of them even have adopted climate policies, but despite this, almost none really respect the scientific consensus about climate crisis. Only one of the 60 largest banks in the world has stopped supporting the fossil fuel industry in line with its new policy: the Banque Postale in France.
In the top ten of the worst banks, we find mainly American banks, but also Canadian, Japanese, one English and one French.
Concretely, what does that mean? The EACop/Tilenga project, led by Total Energies with the Chinese company CNOOC, is a climate bomb: the drilling, the longest heated pipeline in the world which will transport fuel from Uganda to the Indian Ocean through Tanzania, will release an amount of greenhouse gases incompatible with a liveable climate for human life to come.
To implement this project, the two companies need money, lent by or through the banks. The project will not be implemented if banks do not support the project, just like insurance companies.
As Catholics, we cannot allow Creation to suffer indifferently. We have ways to make financial actors understand that they cannot continue as before, that we must leave fossil fuels in the ground and lead the fastest possible transition to climate-friendly energy systems.
For Catholic institutions, financial asset owners, it is time to commit to no longer invest in fossil fuel industries. Commit to divest
For all Catholic people and institutions, it is also possible to turn to banks that finance solutions rather than destruction. In any case, as a customer, challenge your bank: it must stop. Move your money.