The report analyzes support for the world’s largest fossil fuel developers from the financial institutions who are members of the sectoral alliances (2). It finds that:
- Since joining the alliance, 56 of the biggest banks in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) have provided US$270 billion to 102 major fossil fuel expanders, via 134 loans and 215 underwriting transactions;
- 58 of the largest members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM) held at least US$847 billion of stocks and bonds in 201 major fossil fuel developers as of September 2022;
- Only a handful of the financial institutions have adopted policies that meaningfully restrict finance to new fossil fuel projects and companies developing new fossil supply projects since joining GFANZ (3).
In total, 229 of the world’s largest fossil fuel developers received finance from the 161 GFANZ members covered in this report (4), which will support them to develop new coal power plants, mines, ports and other infrastructure, as well as new oil and gas fields and pipelines and LNG terminals. These new fossil fuel projects are incompatible with the objective of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, as confirmed in the latest International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, published in October 2022. They will lock in greenhouse gas emissions for decades, despite the adoption of decarbonization targets by some GFANZ members (5).
Lucie Pinson, Executive Director and founder of Reclaim Finance says: “The science is very clear: we need to stop developing new coal, oil and gas projects as soon as possible if we want to meet our climate goals and avoid a worst-case scenario. Yet, it is business as usual for most banks and investors who continue to support fossil fuel developers without any restrictions, despite their high-profile commitments to carbon neutrality. Their greenwashing is all the more damaging as it casts doubt on the sincerity of all net zero commitments and undermines the efforts of those who are truly acting for the climate.”
Even though ending finance for fossil fuel expansion is clearly essential to meet the GFANZ commitment to keeping warming under 1.5°C, none of its member alliances have language that meaningfully addresses the issue in their guidelines.
The UN Race to Zero campaign – of which all financial institutions became signatories when joining GFANZ alliances – sets criteria for net-zero aligned financial institutions and other non-state actors. Since June 2022, these criteria have included an end to financing of new fossil fuel projects. While GFANZ has stopped demanding that its members join the UN Race to Zero initiative, the sectoral alliances remain Race to Zero partners and so committed to complying with its criteria. The November 2022 report of the UN’s High Level Expert Group on net zero has highlighted that credible net zero pledges must include an end to financial support for fossil fuel expansion (6).
Reclaim Finance Senior Analyst Paddy McCully said: “GFANZ members are acting as climate arsonists. They’ve pledged to achieve net zero but are continuing to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into fossil fuel developers. GFANZ and its member alliances will only be credible once they up their game and insist that their members help bring a rapid end to the era of coal, oil and fossil gas expansion.”
Citigroup, one of the founder members of the NZBA, approved 136 transactions that directly provided and facilitated US$30 billion in capital to fossil fuel developers, including Saudi Aramco, QatarEnergy, and Gazprom since joining in April 2021. Barclays, also a founder member of the NZBA, has approved 58 transactions that have directly provided and facilitated almost US$9 billion in capital to fossil fuel developers since joining in April 2021. Royal Bank of Canada has provided almost US$10 billion in capital to oil and gas developers since joining in November 2021.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager and a member of NZAM, has holdings of US$191 billion in 173 different fossil fuel developers, with 89% by value in oil and gas. French asset manager Amundi has holdings of US$17 billion in fossil fuel developers.
Eri Watanabe, Senior Finance Campaigner of 350.org Japan says : “Despite their high profile commitments to net zero, Japanese banks and investors, including Mitsubishi UFJ and Nomura Asset Management, are continuing to support the development of oil, gas and even coal through their investments and loans. The Japanese finance sector cannot be taken seriously on the climate crisis until it stops investing in new fossil fuel projects. We need an urgent transition to a green economy for all of us to thrive and the finance sector must help deliver that. ”
Maaike Beenes, Climate Lead at BankTrack says: ”The NZBA’s own 2022 progress report showed that just about half of NZBA member banks have set 2030 financed emissions reduction targets for fossil fuel sectors, and banks that have set targets often don’t apply them to major parts of their portfolios. It is therefore not surprising that despite claiming credit for their NZBA membership, most banks continue to provide shocking amounts of funding to the fossil fuel industry, the sector most responsible for the unfolding climate crisis.’‘
Guillaume Durin, campaigner at BreakFree Switzerland says: “Once again, the Swiss financial center is far from setting a good example within the international alliance. While the Federal Council praises sustainable finance, the big Swiss banks have allocated several billions to companies that are developing new climate bombs, despite having declared a commitment to becoming carbon neutral.. Their investments fuel a volume of emissions equivalent to twenty times the total national CO2 emissions, or more than twice the emissions of a country like France. It’s time for regulators to force financial actors to take responsibility for the risk they pose to all of humanity.”
Tony Burdon, CEO at Make My Money Matter, who have endorsed the report, commented: “We know that financing for fossil fuel expansion is bad for the planet, contradicts any serious net zero commitment, and goes against the wishes of millions of savers who want their money tackling the climate crisis, not fuelling the fire. Yet staggeringly this report shows that our banks and our pension funds – underpinned by our money – continue to provide billions in finance to companies involved in such activity. This must change. Any financial institution who wants to be taken seriously on climate change must listen to the science, respond to their customers, and end their dangerous relationship with fossil fuel expansion.”
Aditi Sen, Climate and Energy Director from Rainforest Action Network says: “The science is clear — financing of new oil, gas and coal is incompatible with net zero. By continuing to finance new fossil fuel projects, banks and asset managers are complicit in driving climate chaos . The US’s top banks who are the world’s biggest financiers of fossil fuels need to reconcile their actions with their rhetoric on climate by moving finance away from fossil fuel expansion towards a just energy transition.”
Daniela Finamore, Finance&Climate Campaigner from ReCommon says : “Despite their high profile commitments to net zero, Italian banks and investors, including Intesa Sanpaolo and Eurizon Capital, are continuing to support the development of oil, gas and even coal through their investments and loans. The Italian finance sector cannot be taken seriously on climate change until it stops investing in new fossil fuel projects.”
Adele Shraiman from Sierra Club says: “Despite their high-profile commitments to net zero, US banks like Citibank and investors like BlackRock are continuing to support the development of oil, gas, and even coal through their investments and loans. The US financial sector cannot be taken seriously on climate change until it stops investing in new fossil fuel projects. We need an urgent transition to a green economy and the financial sector must help deliver that.”
Sarah Beuhler, Stand.earth Climate Finance Campaigner said: “Despite greenwashed net-zero commitments, Canadian banks like RBC perpetuate fossil-fueled destruction through investments and loans to coal, oil and gas corporations. The finance sector has a key role in delivering the urgent transition to a climate-safe economy, yet Canada’s banks are hindering the country’s ability to meet its climate commitments. The sector can’t be taken seriously until it ends financing of fossil fuel companies building out new pipelines, terminals and gas and oil fields that are not justified by the climate science”
Regine Richter, Finance Campaigner from Urgewald says: “Despite their high profile commitments to net zero, German banks and investors, including Deutsche Bank and DWS, are continuing to support the development of oil, gas and even coal through their investments and loans. The German finance sector cannot be taken seriously on climate change until it stops investing in new fossil fuel projects. We need an urgent transition to a green economy and the finance sector must help deliver that.”