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Greenwashing

An analysis by London-based think tank InfluenceMap has found that big banks continue to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into fossil fuel extraction, thereby contradicting their pledges to cut carbon emissions that drive climate change.

InfluenceMap found the world’s 30 biggest listed finance groups have provided $740 billion to fossil fuel producers in 2020 and 2021, and hold billions more in investments.

“There is s stark disconnect between what they say about climate change and what they’re actually doing,” said the report’s author Eden Coates.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says global carbon dioxide emissions must reach net zero by 2050 if global warming is to be limited to the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius to curb disastrous impacts. The International Energy Agency in 2021 published a roadmap showing that to make the energy switch to meet this target, there must be no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects.

All but one of the 30 banks surveyed have committed to net zero by 2050 but the report found that aside from continuing to finance fossil fuel extraction projects, the companies were also members of groups that lobby to weaken green finance policies.

Campaigners see such findings as evidence of “greenwashing” or companies trumpeting climate pledges while taking action that undermines those goals. They say shareholders must press these companies to reduce the damage from climate change and vote against directors of banks who are hiding their exposure to climate risk.

Reports of greenwashing are disappointing but not surprising. We can probably talk to these banks in the language they understand in the hope that they get their priorities in order, but at the same time we also have to assume the worst and continue to do what we can to contribute to the global reduction emissions so humanity can reach our target and mitigate the disastrous effects of global warming that will bear down on us with a vengeance if we do nothing.*

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May 2022
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