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1.3 trillion euros for coal, oil and gas

Published January 27th, 2020

At the meeting of the business elite in Davos, financial managers also spoke a lot about sustainability. A Greenpeace study shows, however, that banks are continuing to fuel climate change.

The powerful people of this world meet once a year in Davos, Switzerland: politicians, scientists, business leaders and bankers. Usually, they talk a lot about the global economy, growth and trade. It was quite different at this year’s World Economic Forum in January. Climate change dominated the agenda. CEOs sounded almost like climate protectors. Even representatives of the financial industry spoke a lot about sustainability. “As CEOs, we want to create long-term value for our shareholders by delivering stable returns and by creating a sustainable business model that addresses long-term corporate goals,” said Brian Moynihan, head of the US bank Bank of America. The world’s largest asset manager, Blackrock, which holds shares in around 2,500 companies, wants to get them to prioritise green investments.

So have banks, insurers and funds learned something new? Are they fighting climate change instead of continuing to finance it? A Greenpeace study casts doubt on this. The environmental organisation examined the investments of 24 banks represented in Davos. The result: Since the Paris climate agreement in 2015, they have put a total of almost 1.3 trillion euros into fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. That is, to get a feel for the scales of things, about as much money as the poorer half of the world population possesses. According to Greenpeace, that would be enough to double the global capacity of solar energy.

For Jennifer Morgan, the managing director of Greenpeace International, the chief financial officers are therefore hypocrites. “They pretend to want to save the planet, but at the same time they’re destroying it for short-term profit.” The banks examined include JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

We at Tomorrow hope that the financial industry will play a positive role in combating climate change in the future, and therefore welcome all serious initiatives. In our view, the Greenpeace study shows that many conventional banks still have a long way to go – and that’s why sustainable alternatives like Tomorrow, that don’t invest in coal oil or gas are needed.