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  • Social movements are pressuring banks to divest from infrastructures that put profits before human rights and a livable future.

    Social movements are pressuring banks to divest from infrastructures that put profits before human rights and a livable future. | Photo: Reuters

"Big banks’ business, as usual, is killing the climate and is failing to respect human rights," the report stated. 

The Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card stated that between 2015 and 2016, big banks have poured US$290 billion into "extreme fossil fuel" companies failing to respect human rights.

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The eighth annual study was released by the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, the Sierra Club, and Oil Change International.

In an email to its supporters, RAN said Wednesday, "To keep the planet under 1.5 degrees (Celsius) of global warming and stop human rights violations, banks must stop financing extreme fossil fuels. Our planet just can't take it."

The "Banking on Climate Change" report — released in collaboration with over two dozen organizations including Bold Alliance, SumOfUs, West Coast Environmental Law, and Indigenous Climate Action — took a look at 37 major banks' lending and underwriting transactions, and gives them an A-F grade based on their policies.

Since the Paris Agreement was inked, 12 of the 37 major banks have increased their financing to the top extreme fossil fuel companies. The report categorized "extreme" fossil fuel as tar sands, ultra-deepwater oil, coal mining, coal power, Arctic oil, and liquefied natural gas exports, pointed out, "Big banks’ business, as usual, is killing the climate and is failing to respect human rights."

Over the last three years, the new investment of US$290 billion of direct and indirect financing for extreme fossil fuels has been made in the exact subsectors whose expansion is most at odds with reaching climate targets, respecting human rights, and preserving ecosystems, Common Dreams reported.

According to the report, between 2015 to 2016, the amount the banks poured into extreme fossil fuels dropped 22 percent, from US$111 billion down to US$87 billion. The report cautioned that for the sake of the planet, this must not be "just a temporary decline."

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The report's findings are based on the most "carbon-intensive, financially risky, and environmentally destructive fossil fuel sectors."

Major banks mentioned in the report, like Bank of America, Bank of Montreal, Barclays, Canadian and Imperial Bank of Commerce, Citibank, Credit Agricole, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho, RBC, Scotiabank, SMFG, TD, and Wells Fargo, have all participated in multi-billion dollar lines of credit to TransCanada and its 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline, that would bring crude tar sands from the Canadian province of Alberta to Nebraska and link to an existing network of pipelines.

Jenny Marienau, 350.org's U.S. campaigns director, told the Common Dreams, "There's no question that funding climate change is a deadly investment strategy."

"Yet banks around the world are funneling billions of dollars into the fossil fuel projects leading us closer to catastrophic warming every day," Marienau added.

"Movements like the Indigenous-led effort to Defund DAPL are pressuring banks to divest from infrastructures like the Dakota Access pipeline that puts profits before human rights and a livable future," Marienau said. "It's up to us to resist these disastrous projects, push back on these fatal investments, and build the renewable energy solutions we need," Common Dreams reported.

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