“Banking on Climate Chaos: Fossil Fuel Finance Report 2021”, 23 March 2021

This report analyzes fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 largest commercial and investment banks — aggregating their leading roles in lending and underwriting of debt and equity issuances — and finds that these banks poured a total of $3.8 trillion into fossil fuels from 2016–2020.

Fossil fuel financing dropped 9% last year, parallel to the global drop in fossil fuel demand and production due to the COVID-19 pandemic.And yet 2020 levels remained higher than in 2016, the year immediately following the adoption of the Paris Agreement. The overall fossil fuel financing trend of the last five years is still heading definitively in the wrong direction, reinforcing the need for banks to establish policies that lock in the fossil fuel financing declines of 2020, lest they snap back to business-as-usual in 2021…

The report also assesses bank financing for and policies regarding top companies in key fossil fuel sectors, and details case studies where this financing has resulted in harmful impacts on communities around the world…

This year’s report also assesses the current wave of bank commitments to reduce their financed emissions to “net zero by 2050,” as well as related policies like measuring and disclosing financed emissions, and emphasizes that no bank making a climate commitment for 2050 should be taken seriously unless it also acts on fossil fuels in 2021. Moreover, until the banks prove otherwise, the “net” in “net zero” leaves room for emissions targets that fall short of what the science demands, based on copious offsetting or absurd assumptions about future carbon-capture schemes, as well as the rights violations and fraud that often come hand in hand with offsetting and carbon markets…

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