The Green Party of England and Wales is decrying the role banks have played in the funding of “climate chaos.” The statement from the party comes in response to a recent report from ShareAction, which shows that banks with net-zero pledges have invested billions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry since 2016. ShareAction is a British charity that describes itself as “working to build a world where the financial system serves our planet and its people.”

The ShareAction report cites the International Energy Association’s (IEA) statement from May of 2021 which said that achieving net-zero emissions globally by 2050 is impossible if new fossil-fuel infrastructure projects keep being funded by investors. The Green Party’s statement from February 14th repeated the IEA’s assertion that fossil fuel development and net-zero emissions by 2050 are incompatible.

Despite this, some of the worst offenders in funding fossil-fuel projects are banks that have joined the “Net-Zero Banking Alliance(NZBA). This group includes London-based firms Barclays (which contributed 48 billion USD to fossil-fuel companies since 2016) and HSBC (which contributed 59 billion USD). According to ShareAction, other European banks have joined the NZBA and increased their funding of fossil-fuel projects in 2021, including Credit Suisse, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, UBS, Nordea, and Danske Bank.

Green Party finance and economy spokesperson Dr. Molly Scott Cato criticised HSBC and Barclays for “chasing short-term profits at the expense of future generations.” She noted that “The climate emergency demands a steady decline in the value of fossil fuel assets but they are being artificially inflated by the billions banks are throwing at oil and gas.”

In addition to policies intended to discourage fossil fuel use like carbon taxation, the Greens’ 2019 manifesto includes divestment of all public pension funds from fossil-fuel-related investments. Their “Green New Deal for Energy” states that “The key to reducing our impact on the climate is to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible.” Dr. Scott Cato emphasized the role UK banks in particular have played in funding fossil-fuel projects:

“As a leading financial centre, the City of London must show global leadership in divesting from the fossil fuel industry rather than inflating it with further finance. We need financial regulators to take action against banks that are failing to meet their own pledges to decarbonise their portfolios and are instead funding climate chaos.”

Gabriel Blanc

Gabriel Blanc is an undergraduate student in history and environmental studies at Brown University from Toronto, Ontario. His areas of interest are electoral politics and the fight against climate change.

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