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Banks must announce concrete steps to end their support for the coal, oil, and gas industry ahead of the Glasgow Climate Summit (COP26), or bear direct responsibility for the further escalation of the climate crisis, says an open letter sent this week by BankTrack and partners, with backing of 210 groups globally.
The letter, sent to the CEOs of the world’s largest 60 banks, calls on bank leaders to show personal courage and leadership in steering their institutions away from the fossil fuel industry that is at the heart of the climate crisis. (1)
These 60 banks together provided over US$ 3.8 trillion to the fossil fuel industry between 2016 and 2020, with nearly US$ 1.5 trillion going to support the top 100 companies still expanding fossil fuel production and infrastructure. (2)
The recently launched Fossil Banks No Thanks platform, led by BankTrack, demands that banks phase out all existing financing for fossil fuels on a timeline aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, while respecting human rights, including Indigenous rights. (3) These demands are supported by over 210 organisations from 39 countries. Concretely the campaign calls on banks to:
- Immediately end all financing for fossil fuel expansion projects and for all companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure, along the whole fossil fuel value chain;
- Publish plans to phase out all ongoing financing for fossil fuel projects and companies, on a timeline aligned with limiting global warming to 1.5°C, starting with coal mining and coal power, as well as projects and companies active in tar sands oil, Arctic oil and gas, offshore oil and gas, fracked oil and gas, and LNG;
- Require all existing clients to publish phase out plans for their fossil fuel activities on a 1.5°C-aligned timeline;
- Commit to zero out the climate impact of all financing before 2050, and to halve this impact by 2030 at the latest, without relying on discredited offset schemes;
- Immediately end all financing for fossil fuel projects and companies that abuse human rights, including Indigenous rights, and
- Publicly and comprehensively report on all the previous steps.
Maaike Beenes, Fossil Banks No Thanks coordinator at BankTrack, commented: “The science was already clear in 2015: to limit global warming to1.5°C, we need a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels. Five years later, we have seen a lot of talk about long-term net zero commitments from banks, but very little meaningful and immediate action. Ahead of this new COP, the world’s best and last chance to get runaway climate change under control, we are sending a message from over 200 civil society organisations across the world to banks: take your responsibility and stop financing fossil fuels.
“The recent findings and warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency and the UN Secretary General among others all make clear that the only way to keep a fighting chance of keeping warming to 1.5°C degrees is to immediately end all finance for new fossil fuels, and take drastic steps to end finance for the sector altogether. Not in 2050, not in 2030, but now!” (4)
Note to Editors
(1) For an example of the letter see here.
(2) From Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club, Oil Change International and Reclaim Finance, “Banking on Climate Chaos”, 2021: ran.org/bankingonclimatechaos2021.
(3) The Fossil Banks No Thanks platform website is at fossilbanks.org.
(4) IPCC Sixth assessment report: ipcc.ch/2021/08/09. International Energy Agency pathway towards 2050: iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050. UN Secretary-General António Guterres: unric.org/en/guterres-the-ipcc-report-is-a-code-red-for-humanity/.