JPMorgan Chase and its chief executive Jamie Dimon claim to be strong supporters of climate action and the Paris climate accord. But in reality, they are “the world’s worst banker of climate change” according to a major new analysis.
Just this week, the company launched a wildly misleading attack on the Green New Deal, asserting that its goals of rapidly decarbonizing the U.S. economy “are not in the realm of the possible.”
According to a report by the Sierra Club and other leading environmental groups, however, JPMorgan Chase has provided a staggering $196 billion dollars in financing for fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion since the December 2015 Paris Agreement, in which 200 nations unanimously agreed to leave most fossil fuels in the ground.
Just before the Paris deal, JPMorgan Chase signed a statement with Bank of America, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and other big financial companies embracing the need for strong action. “Our institutions are committing significant resources toward financing climate solutions,” the statement read.
But since the Paris Agreement, those institutions have devoted $700 billion in financing to fossil fuel expansion, including coal mining, coal power, the tar sands, and oil drilling in remote locations like the Arctic — the very things that are destroying our livable climate the fastest.
In 2017, Dimon also said he “absolutely” disagrees with President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the historic climate deal. However, this week’s report shows that JPMorgan Chase has since become the leading banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion.
Indeed, the banking report finds that the company is responsible for $1 out of every $10 of fossil fuel financing provided by the 33 major global banks it tracked. JPMorgan Chase’s funding of the top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure ranks in 68 percent higher than second place Citibank.
Both Dimon and JPMorgan Chase have spent this week trashing the Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution aimed at developing a plan consistent with the dire nature of current climate science.
On Monday, Michael Cembalest, chief investment officer at JP Morgan Asset Management, published the company’s annual energy paper, titled, “Mountains and Molehills: Achievements and Distractions on the Road to Decarbonization.”
The paper criticizes the Green New Deal, claiming it “mandates zero net emissions for the US by 2030 for the entire energy sector (not just from electricity generation), and does so while phasing out nuclear power and relying heavily on carbon sequestration by forests.”
In fact, the Green New Deal is a “nonbinding” resolution, as its leading proponent, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), tweeted Wednesday.
The resolution calls for full decarbonization of the electricity sector alone by 2030, while calling for decarbonization of other sectors like transportation over the next decade “as much as is technologically feasible.”
Meanwhile, the resolution is completely silent on nuclear power, and carbon sequestration is one of many strategies offered.
Despite this, Cembalest concluded this week that the deal’s goals were “not a useful foundation for a serious policy discussion.”
Given JPMorgan Chase’s vast financing of fossil fuels, the world’s worst banker of climate change appears poorly positioned to criticize any resolution that takes seriously the Paris goal of keeping total warming “well below 2°C” (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
In an interview with CNN Tuesday, Dimon was dismissive of the Green New Deal, saying “I don’t spend much time worrying about things I can’t effectuate.” He also questioned the approach, “Can you focus on climate change in an intelligent way that doesn’t damage the economy?”
As an alternative, he offered up a carbon tax.
Dimon, of course, can’t “effectuate” a carbon tax. And the one thing the JPMorgan Chase executive could effectuate — stopping his bank from financing the destruction of the climate — he has chosen not to do.