From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject 'Wall Street Is a Primary Villain' in Climate Crisis, Analysis Shows
Date April 8, 2021 4:35 AM
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[ DeSmogs investigation found that at least 65% of directors from
39 global banks had 940 connections to "climate-conflicted"
industries.] [[link removed]]

'WALL STREET IS A PRIMARY VILLAIN' IN CLIMATE CRISIS, ANALYSIS SHOWS
 
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Jessica Corbett
April 7, 2021
Common Dreams
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_ DeSmog's investigation found that at least 65% of directors from 39
global banks had 940 connections to "climate-conflicted" industries. _


Dozens of New York residents with the organization Rise and Resist
stormed the JP Morgan Chase's new headquarters in central Manhattan on
November 20, 2019 demanding an end to its massive financing of the
climate crisis., (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

 

"The boardrooms of the world's largest banks are polluted to the
core... How are we ever meant to stop the climate crisis if the
world's most powerful decision-makers are in bed with the companies
behind the wheel!?"

That's how Bank on Our Future—a U.K.-based network
[[link removed]] pressuring financial players to
align their business practices with tackling the climate
crisis—responded
[[link removed]] Wednesday
to a new _DeSmog_ analysis
[[link removed]] revealing
that a majority of directors at major banks worldwide are connected to
polluting companies and organizations.

"This is a ginormous and superb piece of work by the talented sleuths"
at _DeSmog_, said
[[link removed]] Beau
O'Sullivan, a campaigner at the Sunrise Project in Australia. He added
that the report "contains findings that readers may find offensive and
deeply disturbing."

_DeSmog_ examined the boards of 39 banks, including seven based in
the United States, and found that 65% of directors have a total of 940
past or current ties to "climate-conflicted" industries. Across all
banks studied, 16% of board members had ties to companies involved in
extracting coal, gas, and oil.

In addition to fossil fuels, "there were also significant ties to
banks and investment vehicles supporting polluting industries, as well
as to thinktanks and lobbying groups with a history of campaigning
against climate action," reported _DeSmog_'s Phoebe Cooke, Rachel
Sherrington, and Mat Hope.

"The fossil fuel industry has a well-established track record of
ingratiating itself with society's opinion leaders and
decision-makers," Geoffrey Supran, research associate in Harvard
University's Department of the History of Science,
told _DeSmog_ about "the revolving doors between the corporate
leaderships of incumbent industries."

"Having its fingers in all the pies allows the fossil fuel industry to
quietly put its thumb on the scales of institutional decision-making,
helping delay action, and protect the status quo," added Supran, who
called the results of the analysis "predictable, yet shocking."

Alec Connon, coalition coordinator at Stop the Money Pipeline
[[link removed]],
responded similarly to the revelations in an email to_ Common
Dreams_. 

"It should surprise no one that Wall Street boards are brimming with
executives with close ties to climate-damaging companies," he said.
"Since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, Chase, Wells Fargo, and
their Wall Street ilk have loaned more than $1 trillion to the fossil
fuel industry. In the climate crisis, Wall Street is a primary
villain."

"Perhaps if they had fewer fossil fuel executives on their boards,"
Connon added, "that would begin to change."

A coalition of green groups including the Rainforest Action Network
(RAN) released a report last month detailing
[[link removed]] how
the world's 60 biggest banks have poured over $3.8 trillion into the
fossil fuel industry in the wake of the landmark climate agreement,
which aims to keep global temperature rise by 2100 to "well below"
2°C, with a more ambitious target of 1.5°C.

The groups' _Banking on Climate_ report generated fresh criticism of
big banks' recent pledges
[[link removed]] to
work toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In light
of _DeSmog_'s reporting, Connon also addressed such commitments,
saying that "2050 promises without 2021 action are essentially
meaningless."

"We need action today, not vague promises of action in the next three
decades," he continued. "Perhaps the fact that Wall Street boards are
so full of fossil fuel executives is one reason why they're continuing
to prioritize empty promises over immediate, meaningful policy
change."

Since January 2020, the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition has
pressured
[[link removed]] banks,
insurers, and asset managers to cut ties with companies financing
climate destruction. While its initial top targets were JPMorgan
Chase, BlackRock, and Liberty Mutual, the coalition has expanded its
efforts—including with a recently launched
[[link removed]] campaign
directed at funders of Enbrige's Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

That controversial project—intensely opposed
[[link removed]] by
Indigenous water protectors and climate campaigners—was the focus of
a report
[[link removed]] by
Emily Holden of _Floodlight_ and Emily Atkin of _HEATED_, published
Wednesday in _The Guardian_.

Citing _DeSmog_'s finding that 77% of board members at seven major
U.S. banks have ties to climate-conflicted companies or groups, the
pair provided "an on-the-ground look at where all this dirty money is
going," as Supran put it
[[link removed]].

According to Holden and Atkin:

From the U.S., Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells
Fargo have made the project possible with billions of dollars in
loans, although it's impossible to tally precisely how much they have
financed for the pipeline specifically. Another five large Canadian
banks are also financing Enbridge, according to RAN.

Out of these nine North American banks backing Enbridge, six have
recently published net-zero climate goals
[[link removed]],
pledging to align their investments with the international Paris
climate agreement.

"The banks are gorging on doughnuts and then eating an apple
afterwards," said Richard Brooks, the Toronto-based climate finance
director for Stand.earth. "We certainly can't rely on banks or the
private sector to lead us into climate safety and lead us toward
emissions reductions. We need policy, we need regulation. We need
government to act."

Last week, 145 groups sent
[[link removed]] a
letter to John Kerry, President Joe Biden's climate envoy, encouraging
the former secretary of state to use his current position to help end
"the flow of private finance from Wall Street to the industries
driving climate change around the world—fossil fuels and forest-risk
commodities."

In another pair of letters last week, federal lawmakers and
environmental groups pressed
[[link removed]] Federal
Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to pursue bolder efforts to protect U.S.
financial institutions and the economy from risks posed by the climate
crisis.

Campaigners are also calling for changes at the institutions.

"We need people who are willing to lead on climate on the boards of
the country's largest financial institutions," said Connon. "That's
why Stop the Money Pipeline is joining the growing calls
[[link removed]] on major investors, such
as BlackRock and Vanguard, demanding that they vote against any
corporate directors that have proven themselves unable or unwilling to
take real action on climate. That starts this shareholder season."

_JESSICA CORBETT
[[link removed]] is
a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on
Twitter: @corbett_jessica [[link removed]]._

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