$673 billion spent on fossil fuel financing in just 2022; clean energy finance has been largely stagnant
The world’s 60 largest banks have spent $5.5 trillion or Rs 4,49,36,265 crore on financing fossil fuel projects since 2016, when the climate pact called Paris Agreement came into effect, according to a new report.
The annual Banking on Climate Chaos report was released April 12, 2023 by environmental organisations like Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, Sierra Club and Urgewald.
The report’s findings indirectly highlight how phasing out fossil fuels integral to the global economy remains an uphill battle for the 190-odd signatories to the agreement. The financing contravenes these banks’ pledges to be on a path to Net Zero greenhouse emissions, as the window to avert the worst effects of the climate crisis rapidly closes.
The 10 banks that had the highest spending on fossil fuels from 2016-2022 include JPMorgan Chase & Co ($434.15 billion), Citibank NA ($332.9 billion), Wells Fargo & Company ($318.2 billion), Bank of America Corporation ($281.23 billion) and Royal Bank of Canada ($253.98 billion).
These were followed by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ($219.64 billion), Barclays ($190.58 billion), Mizuho Bank Ltd ($189.61 billion), the Bank of Nova Scotia or Scotiabank ($182.31 billion) and TD Bank NA ($173.20 billion).
Source: Banking on Climate Chaos report
Furthermore, banks in six countries dominate global financial spending on the fossil fuel sector, including the United States, Canada, China, Japan, France and Great Britain. For example, banks from the US provided 28 per cent of the total financing in 2022.
Of the $673 billion spent on fossil fuel financing in just 2022, the Royal Bank of Canada provided $42.1 billion and JPMorgan Chase provided $39 billion in 2022.
Among the Asian Banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group ranked high in terms of the financing provided and lent $29.5 billion in 2022. On the other hand, French bank BNP Paribas lent the highest amount in Europe, financing $20.8 billion worth of fossil fuel entities in 2022.
The world’s top 100 oil, gas and coal energy companies received $150 billion last year. This included $10.1 billion to TotalEnergies, $12.8 billion to TC Energy, $8.4 billion to ConocoPhillips and $8.9 billion to Saudi Aramco, four of the world’s most aggressive fossil fuel expanders, the report stated.
In an unusual occurrence, energy companies Occidental Petroleum Corp, Pioneer Natural Resources CO, Equinor Asa, Exxon Mobil Corp, Suncor Energy Inc and Shell PLC took absolutely nil financing from banks in 2022 despite taking massive loans the previous years.
This was primarily because fossil fuel companies raked in profits worth $4 trillion in 2022 due to Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 upended global energy markets and set the stage for an unusual year in fossil fuel finance. Fears of energy shortages, especially in Europe, drove up global oil and gas prices, a boon for companies otherwise facing long-term decline and stagnant profits,” the report explained.
Of the 60 banks studied in the report, 47 have coal exclusion policies with weak commitments and 13 do not have coal exclusion policies at all, the report said.
In 2023, Denmark's largest bank, Danske Bank, decided to end fossil fuel refinancing of old oil and gas exploration and production projects and new long term financing for the same, particularly for companies that do not have a credible transition plan according to the Paris Agreement
Most bank commitments allow for loopholes that contain climate risk through underwriting bonds and equities which comprise 36 per cent of all fossil fuel lending, the report said.
A major shortcoming of nearly all targets is that they apply exclusively to lending. They also exclude bond and equity underwriting, the report detailed further.
The hegemony of a few countries over the fossil fuel industry was also addressed by a new briefing by a research and advocacy organisation, Oil Change International.
Group of seven (G7) public finance for fossil fuels was $73 billion from 2020-2022 — equivalent to 2.6 times the clean energy financing at US $28.6 billion, data showed. Canada and Japan were the top financiers during the same period.
The G7 countries are the United States, Canada, United Kingdom. France, Germany, Italy and Japan, which iholds this year’s presidency. The International Group of Seven (G7) Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers are meeting in Sapporo, Japan, on April 15 and 16, 2023.
During last year’s summit, the countries decided to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022”.
“The G7’s clean energy finance is largely going to wealthy countries instead of countries in the Global South. No low-income countries were in the top 15 recipients of clean finance and only four were lower-middle-income countries,” the report said.
“Clean energy finance has been largely stagnant, increasing only slightly from an annual average of $7.3 billion from 2017-2019 to $9.5 billion from 2020-2022,” it added.
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