World’s top banks show minimal clear commitments to shift financing away from fossil fuels

The top 10 banks—ranked as the largest funders of fossil fuel organizations—are talking more about climate change in general. However, in an analysis of annual reports, these banks were found to be vague when it comes to initiatives to counter it.

In 2020 alone, $425.92 billion was spent financing fossil fuels by this group—which includes banks from the US, such as JP Morgan Chase; the UK, Barclays; Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank; and Japan, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.

“If one should ‘follow the money’ to find the culprits of a crime, what does that say for the significant amounts of money that the financial industry puts into fossil fuels,” questions author Associate Professor Åsa Löfgren, from Gothenburg’s Department of Economics.

“In the annual reviews that we studied, the climate change-related efforts of these huge businesses tend to relate to the direct effect of their work, such as reducing their buildings’ use of electricity. There is little or no recognition of the indirect, but significant, effect of their clients’ emissions.”

“This absence of commitments may reflect an absence of critical reflection on their responsibility for financing climate change.”